Groups petition court for Gaza to W. Bank movement
13 human rights organizations say Palestinians' rights severely restricted.
By DAN IZENBERG
Thirteen human rights organizations spearheaded by Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual and Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement petitioned the High Court of Justice on Monday against a new Defense Ministry regulation severely restricting the right of Palestinians living in Gaza to move to the West Bank.“With the stroke of a pen,” wrote Hamoked attorney Ido Blum, “the procedure severs the fabric of life between Gaza and the West Bank for residents of the territories. It effectively cancels Palestinians’ right to family life, tearing apart families and separating spouses, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren.“The procedure is, in effect, the last nail in the coffin of the connection between Gaza and the West Bank and their status as a single territorial unit (and in the future, perhaps, a single Palestinian state).”The regulation was published last week, in response to an order by the High Court, which is hearing a series of individual petitions by Palestinian residents of Gaza who wish to move to the West Bank to join their fiancées or spouses. The state had refused to grant them permission. In response, the court ordered it to present a regulation setting down its policy on the matter.According to the regulation, “In the context of the security and political situation in the Gaza Strip, the political echelon has decided to reduce the movement of residents between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the necessary minimum. In fact, the entry of Gaza residents to the West Bank is possible only in exceptional humanitarian circumstances.”It also states that “family ties, by themselves, do not qualify as humanitarian reasons justifying settlement in the West Bank.”According to the human rights organizations, “the new regulationeffectively prevents, almost entirely, Palestinians from Gaza frommoving to the West Bank. It presents a series of difficult conditionsthat constitute a virtually impenetrable obstacle for moving from theGaza Strip to the West Bank.”The only exceptions to the ban on resettlement are for the chronicallyill, orphans up to the age of 16 and people above the age of 65 who areinfirm.Even for these people, the state will only allow them to move to theWest Bank if they are to be unified with first-degree relatives.Furthermore, if these people have any family members in Gaza that cancare for them, of whatever degree, they will not be allowed to move.
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