Netherlands speeds up Palestinian family reunification procedures

The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service has begun taking measures to speed up the procedures for reuniting Palestinian families in the Netherlands with their relatives in Gaza, due to the danger to life there, in light of the ongoing Israeli bombing for 44 days, amid demands to set a short and binding time limit for responding to reunification requests.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is contemplating the possibility of extending assistance to these groups in leaving Gaza if a positive decision is taken. It usually takes ninety days to process a family reunification application, but sometimes it can take more than a year to reach a decision on an application.

The website “UK in Arabic” reported on Sunday, November 19, that dozens of procedures have been shortened for dozens of Palestinians living in Gaza, most of whom are partners and minor children, and priority will be given to these requests.

But the Immigration and Naturalization Service clarified that it cannot determine how quickly these applications will be completed, noting that this matter depends on many things, including, for example, the availability of identity documents.

The difficulties facing the Palestinians do not stop at agreeing to unification, as there is deep doubt that family members are able to cross the border between Gaza and Egypt, as these borders are not constantly open.

Palestinians with foreign passports can be placed on the evacuation lists, and so far 26 people with a Dutch passport have left Gaza in this way. Meanwhile, 14 Dutch nationals are still stuck in Gaza.

Currently, the Netherlands does not provide assistance to people who have obtained family reunification approval to leave Gaza and come to the Netherlands, because they do not meet the specified criteria.

The Immigration Department notes that, given the exceptional, painful and extremely dangerous circumstances in Gaza, we are currently examining the possibility of expanding these criteria to also include assistance to children and family members who have obtained residency approval from the Immigration Department.

Asylum lawyer Wil Eikelboom confirmed that the applications will be examined urgently, and this is unprecedented, but what is important is how long it will take for the final decision to be issued.

As a result of the continuous Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip since a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, about 13,000 Palestinians were killed, most of them women and children.

About 2 million people live in Gaza without access to basic services such as electricity and fuel, and most hospitals are out of service, under a siege that Israel has imposed on the strip for 17 years.

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