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Israel is preventing four children in the Gaza Strip from joining their parents in Ramallah. The children, aged 3 to 16, have been alone in the Gaza Strip since September 2007 when their mother went to the West Bank for medical treatment and did not return.

The High Court of Justice is now debating a petition filed at the end of January by the Center for the Defense of the Individual against the Interior Ministry and IDF, to enable the children to join their parents.

Mohamed and Amal al-Adaluni lived in Gaza from 1994. In 2002, al-Adaluni was diagnosed with Behcet's syndrome, an infectious disease that affects the body's immune system. In the absence of treatment for her condition in the Strip, she received permits from the Israeli authorities to travel to Ramallah for treatment.

In January 2007, the father, an employee of the Palestinian aviation ministry, was moved to a Ramallah position. The family's requests to visit him were denied or unanswered.

In September 2007, Al-Adaluni's condition worsened and she received another permit to go to Ramallah for treatment. Since then, the children have been alone.

The state told the court the family intends to move to the West Bank and there is no reason to allow them to do that. "The petitioners have no right, either in Israeli law or international law, to move from the Gaza Strip, which is no longer under military control, to the West Bank," the prosecution stated.

The prosecution argued that the mother's condition did not oblige her to remain in Ramallah and she could return to Gaza.

Attorney Ido Blum, who represents the minors, said the state was ignoring the doctors' opinions that she must remain under his constant supervision. Another medical opinion said the complicated treatment requires the supervision of an expert doctor who is familiar with the illness and patient.