Skip to main content

Statusless in Gaza

Physicians for Human Rights Israel
Publication date

PHRI has recently been handling cases of female cancer patients from the Gaza Strip who are stateless. Some have no personal identification documents at all. These are women whose family unification applications were never processed or ultimately not approved, or whose families were absent from the Gaza Strip during the 1967 census and therefore never included in the population registry. The plight of people in this situation became worse after an Israeli decision from 2000 to stop updating its copy of the Palestinian population registry, which prompted the Palestinian Authority to stop issuing ID cards.

Gaza residents who need medical treatment that is unavailable in the Strip face many hurdles and barriers put up by Israel even when they do have status, but for stateless individuals, obtaining a permit is a much tougher battle as their applications are not processed by the Civil Liaison Administration (CLA) as per standard procedure, but by the Israeli Ministry of Interior.

Many who apply via this process know that their chances of obtaining a permit are particularly low, both because the Palestinian Civilian Affairs Committee considers these applications especially complicated, and because Israel views them as entry applications by foreign nationals, towards whom it has even less than the minimal obligations it has toward Palestinian residents. Fortunately, following our intervention, one of the women did get a permit, and we are currently handling several similar applications in the hopes that the women involved will be able to enter in the coming days.

The State of Israel tramples these women’s most basic rights - to life and to health - under foot, while claiming it is not responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip. So long as Israel refuses to update the population registry, and so long as the Palestinian Authority abstains from issuing new ID cards as a result of this, Israel bears a moral duty to allow these women to exit for medical treatment. The status and health of women towards whom Israel shuns any and all responsibility cannot continue to hinge on the Israeli population registry.