Israel Grants Palestinian Cancer Patient Only One Visit to Family in Gaza

Israeli court finally relents after it is made clear that mother of Sa’adah Hassouneh, 65, is too ill to make the trip to see her

Sa’adah Hassouneh
Emil salman

The State of Israel has decided to allow Sa’adah Hassouneh, 65, who suffers from cancer, to visit her family in the Gaza Strip – once.

She was allowed the trip after proving that her mother’s health prevents her from moving about. Hassouneh has not seen her mother or most of her family members for over a decade, and asked to visit them after discovering that she herself had contracted cancer.

To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz

The Gaza coordination and liaison administration told her that she did not meet the criteria enabling Israelis to enter the Strip. (Those criteria include being the spouse of a Gaza resident, or visiting first-degree relatives who are very sick or getting married.) They advised that her family members could apply to leave the Strip to visit her.

Last week the High Court of Justice heard a petition filed on her behalf by the nonprofit organization Gisha. The court leaned toward accepting the state’s argument to adhere to the criteria, but after hearing that Hassouna’s mother could not travel for health reasons, she and Gisha were allowed to present documents proving as much.

On Tuesday the prosecution announced, in a letter by Tehila Roth, that after reading the document, because of the state of Hassouna’s health and that of her mother, they decided as an exception that she could go visit Gaza on a one-time basis. “The decision lies entirely in the unique humanitarian circumstances of this case,” Roth wrote. “It does not bear consequences on other cases, certainly not on [the state’s] policy in general regarding Israelis visiting the Gaza Strip.”

Roth was referring to the second part of Gisha’s petition, asking the High Court to make the state explain why other Israelis in circumstances similar to Hassouneh’s are not allowed to visit family in Gaza.

Roth noted that Hassouneh had not cited her mother’s condition in her original request for an entry permit to Gaza on March 29.