I sat with Raed in the shade of the wall. Though the wall is often referred to as the “Separation Barrier”, it is, in actuality, the Israeli apartheid wall.
Raed is married, with four children to feed.
But according to the laws of the ruling power, Raed is ‘illegal’ in his own home and estranged from his family because of the so-called ‘Citizenship Law’ which in fact is meant to break Palestinian families apart.
Raed was born and raised in Palestine. He has a green ID, while his wife, born and raised in East Jerusalem, has a blue ID.
Therefore, Raed is considered a Palestinian resident, whereas she is a Jerusalem resident.
Only a few kilometers separate the occupied West Bank from East Jerusalem. But from the point of view of human rights, these two places are light years apart.
The recently-passed citizenship law and its harsh enforcement emphasize the regime of apartheid that Israel has instated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Raed would often sneak into Israel to work and provide for his family. He used to work in construction and he is still in touch with some contractors who could hire him.
In the past, he has been caught by Israeli soldiers 51 times. And 51 times he has been sentenced and imprisoned.
All in all, Raed has spent 11 years in prison.
“In which prison did you serve your time, Raed?” I asked him.
“You should ask where I did not, instead,” he answered.
While in prison, Raed studied Hebrew, human rights, and law.
He has invested very large sums of money to hire an attorney who may help him change his legal status. He has made an official request to be issued an Israeli work permit as a mason.
Until then, he works with two of his children as vendors on the Palestinian side of the Qalandiya checkpoint.
Raed is not the exception. Rather, he represents thousands of Palestinians who try their best to survive in a harsh reality that imposes any sort of limitation on their lives.
(Translated by Tal Haran. Edited by Romana Rubeo)