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Israel bars released Palestinian woman from reuniting with family in Gaza

Nisreen Abu Kameel, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, has been refused entry into the Gaza Strip, where her seven children and husband of 20 years live
Former Palestinian prisoner Nisreen Abu Kameel gives an interview to local media outside Damon prison following her release on Sunday (Screengrab/Al-Jarmaqnet)

Israeli authorities are preventing a Palestinian woman recently released from prison from reuniting with her family in the besieged Gaza Strip, sparking outrage.

Nisreen Abu Kameel, 46, is a Palestinian citizen of Israel who was born in Haifa but married a Palestinian man living in Gaza, with whom she has seven children.

After being detained for six years for alleged spying, Abu Kameel was released on Sunday from Damon prison.

That same day, she headed to the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza, but was denied entry by Israeli authorities on the grounds that Israeli citizens are not authorised to enter the blockaded Palestinian territory.

She spent Sunday night at Erez in protest, Palestinian media outlets reported, while her family was waiting on the other side of the crossing.

"I've been married for 20 years in Gaza, and it's my right to return to my house and reunite with my husband and children," Abu Kameel told Al-Jazeera. "I waited days and counted down the hours to return to them."

Abu Kameel met her husband, 50-year-old Hazem Abu Kameel, before the Second Intifada that began in 2000, when he worked as a day labourer inside Israel.

Back then, the Gaza Strip was not yet under an extensive Israeli-led land, air and sea blockade, with Israeli settlements present in the area.

Nisreen was arrested by Israeli authorities in 2015, over accusations that she was spying on behalf of Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, and had photographed the Haifa port during her last visit to the city in 2014.

Nisreen and her family have rejected the accusations of espionage that led to her prison sentence.

Nisreen is now back in her hometown Haifa waiting to secure a permit to cross into Gaza Strip, which has been besieged since 2007.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20 percent of the country's population, are the descendants of those who remained in historic Palestine when most Palestinians were expelled or fled during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, also known as the Nakba.

Currently, there are 36 Palestinian women held in Israeli prisons, according to prisoners' rights group Addameer.

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