Thousands of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip have been deprived of identity documents, and consequently, several basic rights, most notably the right to freedom of movement, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor revealed on Sunday.
In a report entitled The Gaza Strip: Undocumented Citizens, the Euro-Med stated that those without identity cards in Gaza entered the strip either before 2000 with Israeli-issued temporary visitor permits, or after 2000 during the periods when the border wall between Egypt and Gaza was breached, or through the underground tunnels that linked Egypt and Gaza before 2014.
The report reviews the difficulties faced by those without ID cards, as many of them lost their lives from chronic and severe diseases after being denied travel for treatment outside Palestine.
In terms of study and work abroad, undocumented people cannot travel for education or work as they cannot obtain a passport. Likewise, they cannot meet their families if they live abroad, denying many families from being united.
The report points out that this problem is worsened when combined with the continuing official impotence towards solving this humanitarian issue, especially since it has been stagnant for many years.
The Euro-Med Monitor team interviewed Zahra Abu Alwan, 75, who left the Gaza Strip along with her husband before the Israeli occupation of the strip in 1967. They did not get ID cards because they were not present during the Israeli census.
“We returned to Gaza in 2000 through a visitor permit,” Abu Alwan explains. “Since 2000, we have been without ID cards. I have a son who lives abroad, and I have not been able to see him for more than 20 years because I cannot leave Gaza.”
“My husband had a balance disorder as a result of diabetes complications. He suffered for a long time. We went to many doctors in Gaza, but no one could find the appropriate treatment. We urgently needed to transfer him for treatment abroad, but we could not due to having no IDs.”
Euro-Med Monitor’s spokesperson in Palestine, Nada Nabil, asserted: “Israel, as an occupying power, is obliged to respect international law in all its dealings with the Palestinian population and end its policy of refusing to grant them identity cards.”
The report states that the Israeli occupation authorities should abolish arbitrary restrictions on Palestinian citizens’ right to reside in Gaza, end the freeze on family unification applications and begin processing them to enable citizens to obtain ID cards.