Haaretz, Nov 9, 2017


Back in May, Israeli Liaison Office officials told the Palestinian civil affairs committee in Gaza that aside from urgent cases, the processing time for exit-permit applications would grow from 24 working days to between 50 and 70 (regardless of whether the answer was positive or negative). Working days don’t include Fridays, Saturdays or Jewish holidays. This was another step in a trend toward greater restrictions on Gazans’ freedom of movement that first became evident in late 2015.

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories published the new rules only five months later, in October. And the maximum time for processing an application proved even longer than Palestinian officials had originally been told: 23 working days for requests to leave for nonurgent medical care; 50 days for visiting sick relatives in the West Bank or Israel or attending weddings, work meetings, conferences and embassy or consulate appointments; and 70 days for studying, doing a medical residency, trading in Israel or going abroad. But to attend funerals in Israel, answers were promised immediately.

Alswaity, tense and upset, had already told her supervisor in Britain she would be late. But the fear is that even after 70 days, she still wouldn’t have a response to her request for an exit permit. That has happened to many other students.