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Israel Should Introduce Modicum Of Civility Into Her Treatment Of Palestinians

31 July 2015

By Khalid Amayreh

About 15 months ago, my wife, daughter and I went to the Israeli civil administration's offices near Hebron to apply for a travel permit to Gaza.

My daughter Azhar needed to go there in order to join her fiancée Abdullah Abu Al-Laban in marriage. Like most Gazans, Abdullah couldn't leave the coastal enclave due to the hermetic siege imposed by Israel on the Strip ever since Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic group, won general legislative elections in the occupied territories in 2006.

We had no choice but to travel to Gaza for the wedding, otherwise the entire marriage would have to be terminated.

We filled so many applications and met so many Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, but without any result.

We were surprised to discover that the PA is no more than a message-carrier between the Israeli security establishment and the Palestinian populace. Others would call the PA a mere subcontractor for the Israeli occupation. The description doesn't seem to be an overstatement or an exaggeration.

Predictably, we left no stone unturned in an effort to get a permit to reach Gaza but to no avail.

We enlisted human rights groups, some rabbis, high-ranking PA officials as well as civic Israeli organizations, even foreign diplomats, in the hope they would convince the Israeli authorities to allow us to travel the 40 kilometer distance from Hebron to Gaza, but to no avail.

One Rabbi, who said he was a personal friend of Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, told me he wouldn't look me in the eye once again if he failed to get Yaalon to grant my family the needed documents to travel to Gaza.

Four months have passed since the rabbi made his vow, and I have not heard from him again.

We are a peaceful family. None of us has ever been arrested or convicted of any violation or misdemeanor. I am an American-educated journalist, and my wife is an ordinary housewife preoccupied with raising children and trying to make ends meet.

Eventually, after waiting more than 15 months, my wife and daughter succeeded in leaving the West Bank via the Allenby border -crossing with Jordan and then traveling to Gaza via Egypt.

So my daughter and the man she loved were finally united in marriage. Quite a sigh of relief!

Frankly, we felt we scored a little victory over Israel, an entity that constantly devises every conceivable form of pressure and suffering to poison our life and make it as unbearable as possible.

Needless to say, Israel's ultimate strategy has always been and continues to be to force, by hook or crook, as many Palestinians as possible to leave Palestine in order to realize the morbid Zionist dream of building a pure Jewish state with no Goyem (a derogatory term for non-Jews) or as few of them as possible.

But the little "victory" we have scored is incomplete, to say the least. My wife is now stranded in Gaza, being unable to return home in Hebron via the Erez border-crossing or through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Egyptian autocrat Abdul Fattah Sissi has effectively made the semi-permanent closure of the Rafah terminal a fixed policy as part of his bloody showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological mother of Hamas.

The closure of the border crossing has no real security justification, as the Gaza authorities have no interest whatsoever in alienating the moody military rulers of Cairo who don't hesitate to torment and murder their own people under the false rubric of fighting terror. In fact, the continued closure of the Rafah crossing, the Gaza Strip's only remaining conduit to the outside world, seems solely intended to punish Hamas and the Palestinians for their perceived empathy with the Brotherhood.

The forty-kilometer distance between Hebron and Gaza seemed much farther and longer than any other distance as Israel and the equally callous Egyptian regime seem hell-bent on tormenting us and narrowing our horizons.

Now, my family has to start the uncertain process of enlisting human rights groups all over again in an effort to get the Israeli authorities to allow my wife to return home.

I am really doubtful that the Israelis would forsake their characteristic inhumanity and callousness toward the Palestinians, which really goes beyond the pale.

The Israelis routinely invoke the mantra of security to justify many of the illogical cruelties meted out to the Palestinians.

But every Israeli official knows deep in his heart that the policy of collective punishment against the Palestinians is intended to punish, torment and harass the Palestinians for clinging to life in their ancestral homeland and for refusing to disappear from the face of the earth.

When speaking to the media, Israeli officials always dutifully claim that "we (Palestinians and Israelis) are bound to live together in this land."

Do these officials really mean what they say? Or is it just mendacious public relations intended to deceive and mislead?

Khalid Amayreh is a Palestinian journalist and current affairs political commentator living in Occupied Palestine 


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