by Lilach Shoval and Israel Hayom staff
The Israel Defense Forces’ Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit revealed a disconcerting phenomenon on Thursday: Sick children from the Gaza Strip who have received medical treatment in Israel are being abandoned at the Erez border crossing by a parent or other guardian, who took them into Israel for treatment and wants to stay in Israel illegally to work.
On Feb. 5, the father of a 4-year-old Palestinian child abandoned him at the crossing in northern Gaza. The boy had received medical treatment in Israel and when it came to time to return home via the crossing, the father left him with a stranger and remained in Israel illegally.
It was not the first such case. Children have been found without their parents at the crossing several times a month. The phenomenon began a few months ago and isn’t showing signs of slowing down, the army said.
The commander of COGAT in Gaza, Col. Iyad Sarhan, said “the parent who was supposed to accompany his child and provide him with a sense of security chose to remain in Israel as an illegal resident and send his child back to Gaza alone, without any familiar faces leading him home.
“This is an unacceptable phenomenon. As a father myself, I don’t understand how a parent abandons his child and leaves him in the hands of a stranger, without worrying about his welfare and safety.
“Those who choose to stay in Israel are violating the conditions of their entry permits,” added Sarhan. “As a human being and as a father, I hope that this will stop and the residents of Gaza will start prioritizing their children above everything else.”