Dear friends,

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s – the holidays are a time when many of us gather with our families. But such family gatherings are impossible for Palestinian families divided between the Gaza Strip and Israel or the West Bank. As a rule, Israel prohibits the entry of Gazans to its territory and severely limits the entry of its citizens or residents into Gaza. People can only visit their loved ones in Gaza if they meet the very restrictive criteria set by the Israeli military, which considers requests to enter Gaza only in the event of a close relative’s wedding, severe illness or funeral. HaMoked provides support to these divided families, helping them maintain some semblance of a normal family life.  

Recently, we helped an elderly couple from East Jerusalem to attend their granddaughter’s wedding in Gaza. The grandparents were about to give up when they came to us. Following our repeated inquiries, and just two days before the wedding date, the couple’s request was approved. The overwhelming joy with which the couple received the news that they could attend their granddaughter’s wedding – a ceremony taking place just 100 kilometers away – highlights the callousness of Israeli policy with which they must contend the rest of the time. “The last time we met our granddaughter she was a little girl, just three years old,” the grandfather told us. “It was so moving to see her now – all grown up, and so beautiful in her wedding dress – and to celebrate with our family whom we hadn’t been able to see for some twenty years”.

Many people turn to us for help in tragic circumstances. Recently, HaMoked fought to obtain a Gaza entry permit for a young man from Jerusalem who wanted to pay his final respects at his wife’s grave. He had been denied entry to Gaza for the funeral of his wife, a young woman from Gaza who died while receiving medical care in Jerusalem. In this case, we had to petition the court before the military relented and allowed the man to enter Gaza briefly to visit his wife’s grave for the first and last time.

In addition to assisting individuals, we are also trying to effect broader change to ensure Palestinians’ right to family life in the context of the tight closure on the Gaza Strip. This month, HaMoked filed a principled petition to the High Court of Justice, together with Gisha, against the forced separation of Israeli children from their Gaza parents once they reach the age of 18. Our petition demands that even into adulthood, this group be allowed to continue seeing their parents on a regular basis and not just in “exceptional humanitarian circumstances”.

This work would not be possible without the generous support we receive from donors in Israel and around the world. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to make a donation to support HaMoked.

And whatever holidays you are celebrating, I send my very best wishes to you and your family this season.



Jessica Montell
Executive Director of HaMoked

How You Can Help
We need your support to continue providing free legal aid and advocating for policy changes to protect the human rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
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