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Denied by Israel, Palestinians aspire to family reunification

Palestinians wait for travel permits to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on 29 April, 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]
Palestinians wait for travel permits to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on 29 April, 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Following an announcement by the Palestinian Authority (PA) that Israel has approved 5,000 family reunification requests, Palestinians gathered outside the offices of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Authority, the body that officially receives the requests on Israel's behalf, to submit their documents.

Thousands of Palestinians who have lost their case for family reunification have been living without ID cards hence restricting their movement and putting them at risk of Israeli persecution or deportation from the West Bank.

The issue of family reunification is a matter of concern for thousands of Palestinians whose legal presence in the occupied Palestinian territories is not recognised by Israel.

These individuals have families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and have entered with temporary or "tourist" permits, while others have tied the knot with other nationalities before having their family reunification requests granted.

While there is no exact official data on the number of those waiting for their family reunification requests, the campaign movement Uniting My Right estimates them at around 20,000 people.

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Besides those with families residing in areas run by the PA, some of those with pending family reunification requests are married to Israelis or Palestinians living inside Israel.

However, the recent Israeli announcement only affects Palestinians "who entered the Palestinian territories under a visitor permit or a visa to get citizenship and a Palestinian passport," according to a statement by the Civil Affairs Authority.

Palestinian identity holders who live in the West Bank but are originally from Gaza will have their place of residence modified.

In recent months, a number of those affected have mobilised in the city of Ramallah and in blockaded Gaza and launched social media campaigns such as Reunification My Right to protest Israeli policies.

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