Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life After the New Israeli Military Order

Yesterday the craziest thing happened at the checkpoint on the way to Bethlehem. Haha. We're still laughing about it.

But first, let me give you the proper (and not-so-funny) background:

Israel imposed a new military order last week that allows them to jail and/or deport anybody non-Jewish residing in the occupied Palestinian West Bank without the proper Israeli paperwork (i.e. West Bank ID or permit). So in effect, anybody with a Gaza ID, or anybody born in the West Bank with parents with a Gaza ID can be deported to Gaza with a 72 hour notice (yes, even if they never even set foot in Gaza).

Similarly, anybody with Lebanese passports, or Jordanian, or Swedish, or whatever, can be deported if they don't have a permit issued by Israel to reside in the West Bank. The same rule applies to stateless persons who may very well be from the West Bank, or anywhere else in Palestine (including what is Israel today) but do not possess the proper paperwork.

Seeing as how long and difficult the process of getting a permit from Israel can be, this affects quite a few people here. According to some estimations, as many as 70,000 Palestinians here on the West Bank risk being jailed or deported any one of these days as of last week.

Ramallah took out to the streets a few days ago to show their discontent over this new military order:

Demonstration in Ramallah against Israel's new military order

Indeed. The only illegal residents in the Palestine are Israeli settlers.

Israel doesn't waste time either. Just a day or two after the new military order was imposed, people with Gaza IDs started getting phone calls summoning them to the Israeli authorities at the Israeli settlement Beit-Il outside Ramallah.

One man with a Gaza ID at the demonstration wore this t-shirt: 

Man with Gaza ID who didn't want his face in the picture for fear of being deported

Okay, now back to the checkpoint yesterday. They have been surprisingly easy to pass as of late, but now there's a traffic jam at every single one again as the soldiers stop and check each car for people who might be staying here "illegally."

So yesterday on the way to Bethlehem at night, an Israeli soldier stops us and asks for our IDs. As usual, we hand over Tarek's West Bank ID and my Swedish passport.

The soldier looks at my passport and goes: "Where are you from?"

"Sweden," I reply.

He opens the passport and (presumably) reads my name, which sounds decidedly Jewish (even though I come from a Christian background).

He goes: "Ghaza?" (Gaza is pronounced beginning with a sound somewhat similar to the French "r" in Arabic).

I, who can't even imagine in my wildest dreams that anybody reading my Jewish-sounding name in my Swedish passport would seriously ask me if I were from Gaza, say "Sorry?" thinking he said something in Hebrew to me. Considering my name, you know.

Tarek goes: "Ghaza?"

I go: "Huh?" realizing what the soldier had actually asked me. And: "No, Sweden."

The soldier: "What's your name?"

Because if I had stolen a Swedish passport with a one-year visa in it I would never--NEVER!--have memorized the name in the passport.

I replied.

The soldier: "Men Ramallah?" Meaning: "From Ramallah?

"We're coming from Ramallah now, yes, but I'm from Sweden."

The soldier: "Okay." He gave our IDs back and let us go.

We're still laughing. Gaza?!

But this is what it's like now with the new military order. So far. Who knows what will happen next?

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Mirkhaaa said...

.. i still think ure from ghaza :) what the fan... seriƶst! no comment altho im writing this as a comment... xox

Ruby said...

Hehe but it was kind of funny (mostly because I'm NOT from Gaza... who knows what would have happened to me if I WERE?!)