Mother's Day, divided by politics and borders

Most of the Middle East celebrates Mother's Day on Sunday, March 21st.

But for the third year running Niveen Gharqoud will spend it without four of her five children, because her family is divided by the complex restrictions on movement between the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.

Gharqoud and her son, Amir, live in Gaza. In 2018, she sent the other children to their father in the West Bank. Israel sits between them, a border she cannot cross.

The family hasn't seen each other face to face since.

"I sent them with the hope of following them, with Amir. After they reached their father, I was reassured. I tried to apply for a permit to cross from Erez but I was denied access. Living in Gaza is very hard, (in the West Bank) there is work. So it is better to stay there than keep moving between here and there."

Israel's military liaison to the Palestinians says it limits the number of Palestinians allowed to travel across to what it calls "exceptional" humanitarian cases, and that Gharqoud's application didn't meet that criteria.

She'll have a Mother's Day phone call instead, something her daughter Malak is struggling with. The girl says it's not the same.

"The most difficult thing about being without my mom is that Mother's Day passes and she's not with us. When we visit other people, my siblings start asking 'Why do they have a mother and we don't?' It's something that hurts in the heart."

Sami, their father, says as time goes on, he's finding it increasingly hard to distract and placate his children.