Barriers to Health Care Services Among Palestinian Women Denied Family Unification in Israel

Nihaya Daoud, Samira Alfayumi-Zeadna, Yousef T. Jabareen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Family unification received public and political attention following recent global immigration crises, though less within health research. In Israel, under the Family Reunification Order, about 20,000 Palestinian women from the Occupied Palestinian Territories are denied residency and the right to universal health care services (HSC) after marrying Palestinian citizens and moving to Israel. To better understand the relationship between lacking residency and barriers to accessing HCS, we conducted in-depth interviews with 21 Palestinian women (ages 22–59) denied family unification. Our findings revealed that in addition to hindering access to HCS, lacking residency intersects with other political, social, and economic determinants of these women’s health and disrupts normal family life. Lacking residency intensifies poverty (via private health insurance and legal fees, permit extensions) and leads to family separations and risky crossings at military checkpoints into the West Bank for medical treatment. Restrictions on freedom of movement engender fear of deportation and precarity. Denial of residency also exacerbates gender inequality (increased dependence on husbands) and can endanger child custody when mothers’ lack of residency passes to children, violating children’s basic rights. Allowing family unification to Palestinian women would remove barriers to HCS access, allow normal family life, and permit social integration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-797
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • access to health care services
  • children’s rights
  • family unification
  • lacking residency
  • legal status
  • occupied Palestinian territory
  • political determinants of health
  • women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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