By Khalid Amayreh
Yes, I would like to receive an honest and convincing answer to my frustrating question. What does preventing a Hebron fiancée from being wed to her Gaza fiancé have to do with Israeli security? Does it constitute a security risk? Does it compromise Israeli security in any real manner?
In recent months, I have left no stone unturned in order to obtain a real answer to my question from Israeli officials, but to no avail. Yes, I heard all sorts of prevarication and mendacious justifications and pretexts to justify the unjustifiable.
My daughter Azhar, 19, was engaged to Abdullah Abu Allaban, 23, from Jabalya in the Gaza Strip last year. Their marriage certificate was officiated at the Islamic Sharia court in Dura near Hebron where we live. Ever since, she has been trying in vain to travel the 30 mile-distance from Hebron to Gaza to join her husband. (It is like the distance between Oklahoma City and Norman).
We contacted the civil administration of the Israeli occupation and army and were told to contact the Palestinian Authority (PA) liaison office. However, when we did, we were told that the PA had no authority or power over these matters. At the Israeli liaison office, a young female soldier told us rather sarcastically to "see Mahmoud Abbas, perhaps he could help you," Mahmoud Abbas is the helpless chief of the helpless entity known as the Palestinian Authority. He is always at Israel's beck and call.
My daughter and her fiancé have never been involved in any wrong doing or security violations. However, Israel is so notorious for invoking the security mantra to justify denying Palestinians their basic rights.
One Civil Administration official in Hebron told me that "if your daughter wanted to join her husband in Gaza, she would have to sign documents, wavering her right to return to the West Bank. In other words, she would have to willfully accept eternal deportation.
This is not fair by any standard of civility. Where else in the world does this gross injustice happen? Even the most rogue states don't do this. Why must traveling a 30-mile distance from Hebron to Gaza lead to eternal banishment from one's homeland?
The Israeli army authorities would deny that they are preventing a fiancée in the West Bank from joining her fiancé in Gaza. They would argue that the couple could always travel abroad for the marriage ceremony and consummation and then return to occupied Palestine
This is partly true, but it usually involves a lot of problems, mainly stemming from the unkind treatment meted out to Palestinians by neighboring Arab authorities especially in Jordan and Egypt. Moreover, the traveler would have to incur a lot of extra expenses.
As a journalist who has been covering the bitter conflict between Israel and the Palestinians for more than 30 years, I have long become aware of Israel's real goals behind this illogical policy of denying Palestinians the sort of things that other people around the world take for granted.
Israel simply doesn't want us to be around. Israel wants a land without people and is always seeking an opportune time to get rid of us. But, we won't give Israel this opportunity, no matter what.
Israel also manipulates humanitarian issues such as this one in order to recruit informers and agents for its security agencies so that they would inform on their communities, friends and neighbors, thus corroding the Palestinian society from within.
The Israeli intelligence didn't ask me, either implicitly or explicitly, to "cooperate" with them in exchange for permitting my daughter and me to travel to Gaza. Perhaps they knew that my profile wouldn't allow this sort of thing to happen.
But it is really sad that the very people who call themselves "the chosen people" and "light upon the nations" would ask the father or mother of a child afflicted with cancer, who need to have a travel permit to take the child to hospital in either Israel or the West Bank for medical treatment, to either "cooperate with us" or have your child dead in a few days or weeks.
Israel, for the sake of argument, may have some "legitimate security" concerns if it allowed Palestinians to commute freely between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But Israel also employs meticulous security measures that make it virtually impossible for Palestinians traveling through Israel checkpoints and roadblocks to indulge in any foul play.
Hence, the only remaining explanation for the draconian Israeli measures is that Israel is interested first and foremost in frustrating, harassing and tormenting the Palestinians in the hope that the latter would contemplate leaving their ancestral homeland for good in order to have a normal life in exile.