Scholars, researchers dissect recent Gaza judicial announcements on women’s travel, post-divorce compensation

Continuing its series of legal symposia focused on newly enacted laws and regulations in Palestine, Birzeit University’s Institute of Law organized a discussion on the Sharia Judiciary Council in Gaza’s judicial announcements regarding travel restrictions on women and males over 18 as well as compensation for women after an arbitrary divorce.

The symposium, held on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, was chaired by Lina Al-Tonisi, the Institute of Law’s administrative coordinator in Gaza, and featured Abdallah Sharsharah, a lawyer and legal expert. 

In his discussion, Sharsharah tackled the Sharia Judiciary Council’s judicial announcements from two interrelated standpoints:  whether the council has the legal power to produce such wide-ranging announcements that border on legislation, and whether the announcements themselves run afoul of any established legal precedents.

Regarding the first point, Sharsharah defined the Sharia Judiciary Council as an independent legal entity that oversees the work of Sharia courts in Gaza, formulates policies to advance Sharia judiciary, appoints judges, and proposes laws and regulations relevant to its purview. Producing broad judicial announcements based on independent legal reasoning, Sharsharah argued, is not explicitly part of the council’s purview. As such, the judicial announcements may violate the principle of judicial independence.

Discussing the recent judicial announcement regarding women’s rights to compensation after an arbitrary divorce, Sharsharah explained that the announcement, while providing women with recompense, supersedes the 1954 Law of Family Rights, which regulates, among other aspects, marriage and divorce. The judicial announcement, as Sharsharah concluded, is invalid.

After wrapping up the discussion, Al-Tonisi gave the floor to the attendees, who along with Sharsharah discussed several recommendations addressing gaps in the Law of Family Rights adopted in Gaza.