From Gaza, with Love

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Living with uncertainty - thank you Mr. Olmert for making my life difficult and different

Living with uncertainty - thank you Mr. Olmert

Sunday 24th of February
Two months ago I was invited by Trocaire in Ireland to lecture in some places, about the situation for women in conflict areas, and the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which relates to womens safety and security. With the Trocaire invitation letter, and through efforts by (Hemocade) Defence of Individuals Rights in Israel, I was promised a travel permit, via Eritz checkpoint, North of Gaza.
10am
Permit was not approved by the Israelis so I unpacked my suitcase. Sondos was let down but not surprised because in Gaza we always expect the worst and we are always forced to accept the abnormalities as the normal pattern of life under occupation.

Monday 25th of February
Sondos went back to school this morning.
9am
I received a call from the Irish embassy telling me to be ready as the permit will be issued any minute.
I was really pleased and hurried up from my work to my apartment, to pack up my suitcase again, and wait for a call from the Irish embassy. I didn’t collect Sondos from school as I didn’t want to let her down if we did not get the permit.

2pm
Sondos is back from school and is happy and excited to know that we may make it to Ireland via the Allenby Bridge crossing on the River Jordan.

4pm
The embassy phoned asking us to hurry up to the border at the Eritz checkpoint.

4.15pm
We arrived at the borders where we are waiting with a few others including international staff, diplomats and patients.
During a very long 4 hours we have been told by the Israelis on the other side of the borders, and through the Palestinian security guards, several times to ‘go home’, ‘you cannot cross today’, ‘come back tomorrow’. In the meantime I received around ten calls from Hamocade and the embassy telling me ‘hold on you will cross today’.
In the end at 7.30 pm, we were allowed to cross from the Palestinian side (Gaza) to Israel.

On my way to the Israeli checkpoint I walked with my daughter and ten sick people, who are in desperate need for further treatment in Israel. We walked through a long cement tube, with cameras looking down on top of our heads and sound from hidden mics giving us instructions. At that moment I recalled the big brother from the ‘1984’ novel and felt in an unrealistic world. I kept walking and before reaching the end of that tube I met tens of Palestinian people of all sorts of ages (children, babies, old women and men) tired exhausted and very sad. I stopped one very old woman limping with her walking sticks and asked her who she was. She said that they had been visiting their sons and daughters in the Israeli jails. I burst loudly into tears. I felt speechless and helpless.
Arriving at the end of this tunnel, one door after another kept opening with red then green lights and we kept receiving instruction from unseen voices. Sondos explained later on to her sister that it is like a riddle or a maze. On arriving at the desk the officer checked our papers and said ‘you cannot cross - it is an expired permit’. I again called the embassy and different calls were made. I eventually passed through
to find a taxi waiting.

On the taxi to Allenby Bridge 8.30pm
Sondos cried with joy, disbelief and surprise to see Occupied Palestine/Israel for the 1st time in her 15 years. It is another world yet only 15 minutes drive from Gaza - two different worlds. Thanks to Trocaire and Hamocade and the embassy.
The car continued to drive, and I tried to reply my daughter showering me with questions. We passed by the sites of the Palestinian villages and towns, that used to be there once upon a time but were ruined and destroyed, and their original inhabitants were forced to leave and made refugees. This was when Israel was founded on the ruins of Palestine with the pretence of land with no people for people with no land (Ben Gurion) - a big myth of the Zionist ideology.
It was also surprising for me to see the size of the Israeli settlements around Jerusalem.

Solution - in one country with two nationalities, when the privileged can give up some of their privileges on behalf of the original Palestinians refugees and the land can be shared by both Palestinians and Israelis in one democratic state - this is the long term strategic solution for the areas stability. When the time comes that Israel realises the immorality of its existence at the expense of others then that is the time when the Palestinians can enjoy the political stability, and law and order, to prove to the world their ability to contribute to the prosperity of the area .

10pm
We arrived in Jericho to find the borders closed so we stayed there overnight.

Tuesday 26th of February
7 am
We left the hotel and went to the Allenby Bridge crossing point. At the Israeli desk I was told by the officer again that my permit had expired as it covered only one day. After more telephone calls by the Irish embassy my papers were stamped.
I found a VIP car waiting for me and, surprised and relieved, I got in. I remembered Mr. Steig Collin from Sweden who stayed with us and worked voluntarily for three weeks at AlAwda hospital. While I was showing him around in Gaza 1999, we were stopped by the soldiers at one of the Israeli military checkpoints. The soldiers asked if we were VIP’s.
Mr. Collin replied, ‘Every human being is a VIP’. So I entered the car and in 5 minutes I was in Jordan. I missed my flight and now I am writing on board the next days flight on my way to Ireland.

Thanks to Mr. Eihud Olmert’s office who organised my permit and let my daughter see the land of Palestine for the first time in her life, this land where her fathers family used to live and work until 1948 - after that they lived in Egypt as refugees .

Seeing Isareli soldiers so close for the first time, my daughters comment was ‘some of them are nice’.
Yes that is true, and they will be even nicer when they stop occupying us and peace and justice prevail.

Tired and exhausted but pleased to be on my way to Ireland - Mona

15 Comments:

  • Good and safe travels to you and your daughter.
    Ceale mille failte!

    By Blogger Amelopsis, at 3/03/2007 6:30 PM  

  • It does sound like quite a hassle.

    Wouldn't it be easier to leave for Ireland if you were living in an independent Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem? (kind of like the state the UN approved and the Israelis agreed to in 1947 but the Arabs rejected, or the state that Barak offered Arafat in 2000 but Arafat rejected.)

    It can be fun and gratifying to blame one's problems on others, but often it is better to look within.

    By Blogger LieberBlogger, at 3/04/2007 8:07 AM  

  • Salam, great great post. I wrote about it in my blog. Hope you will have a safe trip.

    //Imaan

    By Blogger Imaan On Ice, at 3/04/2007 1:53 PM  

  • well i'm glad that u finally made it to Ireland! its the palestinians' fate to suffer in this life

    7amdila 3al salama

    By Blogger ArabLady, at 3/04/2007 4:20 PM  

  • your postings on your blog are interesting to read. hopefully one day soon, the world will wake up ...

    By Blogger audacious, at 3/04/2007 11:45 PM  

  • As salaam alaikum.

    I write for a Muslim audience. Inshallah, come by if you have some time to read.

    Wa salaama,

    nuh ibn

    By Blogger nuh ibn zbigniew gondek, at 3/05/2007 7:26 PM  

  • As salaam alaikum.

    I write for a Muslim audience. Inshallah, come by if you have some time to read.

    Wa salaama,

    nuh ibn

    By Blogger nuh ibn zbigniew gondek, at 3/05/2007 8:59 PM  

  • Hi Mona,

    really looking forward to hearing you speak in Dublin on Tuesday night. Your blog is essential reading for anyone interested in keeping informed of what is happening on Gaza. I wonder do certain US and European politicians read it? They should. God knows, they might even run the risk of acquiring some humanity!

    Eddie,
    Dublin, Ireland

    By Blogger Ed, at 3/06/2007 1:32 AM  

  • It's so irritating to see what's going on in the checkpoints,
    Every time I pass through a check point I get sad and angry,
    I hope that one day experiences such as this one will not occur any more!

    And as for some other issues-
    Have you heard about burning Palestinian folktales book?
    I wrote a post about it, and ill be happy to read some replays about it.

    Asad al nimr,
    Ramallah.
    http://almanarasquare.blogspot.com/

    By Blogger Asad Ramallah, at 3/07/2007 3:11 PM  

  • Hello Mona,

    It was an interesting post. I'm glad to see your objective perspective on the conflict. Most people tend to see it in black and white.

    I'm glad that your daughter saw Israel for the first time and I agree with your idea of peace.

    Regarding the checkpoints, I wish they could find a way to make them as comfortable as possible for the Palestinian population while maintaining the efficiency of security measures.

    Have a wonderful trip in Ireland and a safe life in Gaza.

    Bless you,
    From Israel.

    By Blogger IsraeliDiary, at 3/09/2007 11:39 PM  

  • This kind of harassment is just ridiculous and an obscene infraction of basic human rights! I suppose Palestinians have no choice but to endure the blind stupidity of collective punishment of the whole population for the actions of a few but is this any way to build bridges to peace? Really, when are the Israelis going to apply some intelligence to the situation?

    By Blogger David, at 3/13/2007 9:46 AM  

  • Mona wrote

    When the time comes that Israel realises the immorality of its existence at the expense of others then that is the time when the Palestinians can enjoy the political stability


    END OF QUOTE

    I am sure you wont agree with me.

    To think palestinian stability would come only when israel cease to exist , is to nurture another ilusion.

    That sentence shows you do accept Israel.

    First the jews did settle in palestine.

    Next arabs did not accept the creation of Israel.


    Next war followed.

    That atitude of not accepting Israel was part of the problem, not part of the solution.


    From palestine post, december 2, 1947

    quote
    Carrying banners inscribed " Down with the nations who voted for the partition " and " Arab Students are ready to fight for a free arab palestine " , several hundred pupils from government and private secondary schools marched from herods gate to the arams al shariff and then via jaffa road to the allenby square yesterday morning. Police and Army Patrols kept the procession under observation but did not interfere.
    There were shouts of "Long Live Our Leaders " and " Down with the Partition Crime " as some of the students and Sheik Hassan Abu Saud of the arab higher executive adressed the crowd at the haram esh sharif.



    end of quote


    December 2 was the day a general strike did start protesting against the partition.

    Since then there were the wars of 47 , 48..,the invasion of sinai in 56 or 57 , the war of 67.., the war of 73....

    You cant have peace with your neighbour if you do not accept his right to be there , living next to you


    . Mona wrote

    Seeing Isareli soldiers so close for the first time, my daughters comment was ‘some of them are nice’.
    .


    END OF QUOTE

    Congratulations to your daughters.

    Her comment shows she is able to realize that israelis are human beings and not just evil blood thirsty zionists.

    Mona wrote
    Israeli Soldiers will be even nicer when they stop occupying us and peace and justice prevail

    To where would israelis go ?

    Israel will not commit suicide in order to stop ocupying palestinian lands.

    conclusion : Looking from afar its easy to realize what is the problem in palestine.

    For muslims israeli jews are the bad guys and are responsible for the nabka and many other crimes..

    For the Israelis arabs are a threat.

    The only way forward was to have peace.

    Each side should forget the past and start being friends.
    Its very simple.

    By Blogger solitarioh2005, at 3/19/2007 12:05 PM  

  • Hello Mona. I have heard the suggestion that both parties to the conflict should forget the past before, most recently on the BBC from no less than Shimon Peres. I would argue, is this really doing service or honour to the causes of either side? Israeli jews, with the most profound of justifications, will not allow us to forget the West's collective responsibility for the Holocaust. Conversely, is it not equally wrong to discount the suffering of Palestinians caused by the dispossession of occupation. In my part of the world - Australia - we acknowledge the right to ancestral land by the original inhabitants, the Australian Aboriginal people via the legal process of "Land Rights" legislation. And of course in North America the Indian Nations have won similar rights. I do not naively suggest that either of these examples bear direct comparison to the Israeli/Palestinian issue. There is no conflict in the history of civilized Man with greater or more complex implications for global security. In a past age all roads led to Rome; in this one they end in Jerusalem. So, in summary I would argue that any productive negotiation process must both acknowledge and honor the tragedies of history so that they might usefully inform the present.

    At the purely humanitarian level I totally agree with you that ideally the product of a peaceful settlement must eventually allow all antagonists to replace hatred with compassion, prejudice with understanding. That would be a truly miraculous outcome.

    By Blogger David, at 3/25/2007 7:16 AM  

  • Hello Mona. I have heard the suggestion that both parties to the conflict should forget the past before, most recently on the BBC from no less than Shimon Peres. I would argue, is this really doing service or honour to the causes of either side? Israeli jews, with the most profound of justifications, will not allow us to forget the West's collective responsibility for the Holocaust. Conversely, is it not equally wrong to discount the suffering of Palestinians caused by the dispossession of occupation. In my part of the world - Australia - we acknowledge the right to ancestral land by the original inhabitants, the Australian Aboriginal people via the legal process of "Land Rights" legislation. And of course in North America the Indian Nations have won similar rights. I do not naively suggest that either of these examples bear direct comparison to the Israeli/Palestinian issue. There is no conflict in the history of civilized Man with greater or more complex implications for global security. In a past age all roads led to Rome; in this one they end in Jerusalem. So, in summary I would argue that any productive negotiation process must both acknowledge and honor the tragedies of history so that they might usefully inform the present.

    At the purely humanitarian level I totally agree with you that ideally the product of a peaceful settlement must eventually allow all antagonists to replace hatred with compassion, prejudice with understanding. That would be a truly miraculous outcome.

    By Blogger David, at 3/25/2007 7:16 AM  

  • Im so pleasd to hav cum across ur blog.in nov,i was denied entry into palestine.im a journalist.the website i write for,islamonline.net was considerd a security threat.wot rubbish!was interrogatd for hours,bags searchd thoroughly,body searchd(which i refusd to feel humiliated by-knowin palestinians hav2 face it daily)the oppression must,and will end!

    By Blogger bibi-aisha, at 4/06/2007 9:36 PM  

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