JERUSALEM — Pregnant Canadian single mom Hana Gan is still in Israel after being turned back at the airport Feb. 19 due to a “no exit” order, and her parents have been given custody of her two young sons.
Now 6-1/2 months pregnant, Gan will soon be trapped in Israel by her pregnancy, her supporters fear. Meanwhile, her parents say she’s being exploited for political purposes.
Following a hearing on March 3, Gan’s parents were awarded custody of her two boys, ages four and six. She has been told by social services that finding an apartment and co-operating with a psychologist’s investigation would help her claim. But her defenders argue that she is her children’s mother and shouldn’t have to prove herself.
“She cannot support herself. She cannot support kids,” her father, who asked not to be identified, told The CJN last week. “She never worked in her life, she never had a steady job. If she went back to Canada, she would be on social services. She has addiction problems… she is a sick person. She needs treatment. We want to try to help her.”
At the March 3 hearing, he said, she was ordered to go for psychiatric evaluation before she could get her children back. “It was supposed to happen two months ago. She refused to do it. She knows her situation.”
She is only able to visit her children once a week for two hours in a supervised “contact centre.” But her father says she’s free to speak to them any time. “She calls them a few times a day.”
However, he believes her supporters are more interested in promoting their own cause than in Hana’s well-being or that of her children.
“She’s hooked up with some groups that are manipulating her,” he said. “She doesn’t even know what they’re doing to her. This is an anti-Zionist group. They are using her for their political agenda.”
Moti Leybel of the Israeli organization Bereaved Parents with Living Children claims to represent “hundreds and hundreds” of Israeli parents whose children have been removed by social services “without any reason.” These cases get little attention, he believes, since they don’t involve foreign citizens.
Gan’s supporters are promoting her cause mainly through the RedressOnline.org website, run by Nureddin Sabir, a Libyan anti-Israel activist.
In a recent audio recording on YouTube, a social worker expressed concern to Gan about publicizing photos and videos of the children through social media channels. “There is a law that you are not supposed to publicize your children. All this involvement of the people whose company you’re in… it is not helpful.”
In the same clip, the social worker admits that Gan is new to Israel and her situation unknown. “We don’t know you… We know you only for a few months… What we know is what you told us, what your parents told us, what the school told us, what the reports to us from Canada told us,” the worker said.
In the face of a possible conflict between Gan’s right to leave Israel and her children’s rights, the social worker is heard explaining that the state has a responsibility to step in make sure the children are safe. “The more co-operative you will be, the shorter this will take.”
However, Gan insisted that there has never been any evidence found, in Canada or in Israel, of negligent parenting.
When contacted for comment, Gan’s lawyer Benny Dekel told The CJN, “This is all confidential information.” He ignored further requests, as have Gan’s other supporters.