Red Tape Keeps Israeli Widow of Gaza Man From Getting Benefits

Upper Nazareth woman cannot officially be recognized as a widow until Hamas issues a death certificate.

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An Israeli woman whose husband, a Gaza resident, was killed by Israel Defense Forces during Operation Cast Lead, cannot be officially recognized as a widow in Israel, because a death certificate has not been issued by Hamas.

Galit Popok, 27, of Upper Nazareth, met her husband Rami 11 years ago. Two years later they married, and Rami remained in Israel illegally. Nine years ago their eldest daughter, Yasmin, was born; a year later they had another daughter, Tami, followed by Maor (6) and Daniel (3). Two years ago, the couple had twin girls, Sali and Dali.

Three and a half years ago, Galit and Rami moved to Gaza. However, two years later, Galit returned to Israel and moved in with her parents in Upper Nazareth, together with Tami, Maor and Daniel.

Yasmin and the twins remained with their father in Gaza.

During the last week of fighting in Gaza, Rami was killed, and his family has since resisted all of Popok's attempts to get her daughters out of Gaza.

Meanwhile, to ease her difficult economic plight, she has asked the Interior Ministry to pay her the benefits accruing to a widow, but the ministry says that without her husband's death certificate, it does not have the authority to recognize her as such.

Popok also is trying to convince Amidar, the public housing company, to arrange an apartment for her and the three children living with her in her parents' home, and hopefully for the three other children still in Gaza.

"The situation is very difficult and I'm asking them to help us," Popok said.