By Palestine Chronicle Staff
B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories has published a new report on February 27 detailing what the organization has described as Israel’s cruel policy of separating Palestinian families living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The organization noted, “Since the 1990s, Israel has restricted the movement of Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2000, the restrictions were tightened and the ‘split family’ procedure was introduced to regulate family visits. This procedure was in force until Hamas seized power in 2007, following which Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip.”
Following imposing a tightened blockade on Gaza, this policy has been further enforced, with fewer Palestinians granted permits to move between the two territories.
‘Heartbreak’: Israel’s cruel policy of splitting families https://t.co/NPsiQECjJ0
— B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) March 2, 2017
“Since then, Israel has permitted visits between the two areas by immediate family only, according to a special procedure that applies in cases that fall within its narrow definition of ‘humanitarian’: serious illness, a wedding, or mourning,” B’Tselem added.
B’Tselem stressed that only 25% of Palestinians applied to get permits to visit their families got the necessary permits to visit their families in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
“According to statistics compiled by the Department of Civilian Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, in 2016, Israel approved only some 25% of requests filed by Gaza residents to visit family in the West Bank that met “humanitarian criteria,” the Israeli rights organization continued.
— The IMEU (@theIMEU) February 22, 2017
B’Tselem concluded, “Since Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank are essentially part of the same society, men and women have continued to marry partners from the other area. This has created a gap between Israel’s copy of the registry and reality. As Israel no longer enables Palestinian residents of Gaza who move to the West Bank to update their address, they are exposed to being arrested as ‘illegal aliens’ and sent back to Gaza. Yet Israel readily changes the addresses of West Bank residents who move to Gaza, from which point on they lose the right to visit the West Bank, except under the extreme limitations of the special procedure.”