By Yousef M. Aljamal – Gaza
14 years ago, a deal was reached between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, which stated that 26 Palestinian fighters, who joined some 200 Palestinians who sought refuge in the Church of Nativity, be deported to the Gaza Strip. 13 others were deported to Europe.
Palestinians who sought refuge in the birthplace of Jesus, thought they would be safe. However, Israel had proven them mistaken. Israeli forces who surrounded the Church, the holiest sacred site for Christians, paid little attention to its status. They killed eight Palestinians inside the Church and injured dozens more. After a 39-day siege on the Church, 39 Palestinians were deported to Gaza and Europe.
On the 14th anniversary of the deportation, the Palestine Chronicle spoke to Majdi Daana, one of the deportees who expressed his anger and frustration to the Palestinian Authority.
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“Our message is known. Our message to the PA after 14 years in Gaza is to end our suffering. We know Israel is pressuring the PA, but we call on the PA to end our plight. They could do a lot more. We ask the PA to give permits to our families to visit us. Just as they get permits for merchants to go to the West Bank, they can bring our families, some of whom are paralyzed and others are suffering from cancer,” he said.
After 14 years in Gaza, Danaa believes that his demand has shifted from calling for return to the West Bank, to calling for the basic right to see his family.
“We no longer talk about return to the West Bank; we just want our families to visit us. Currently, if our families visit us through Jordan, they will suffer a lot until they get to Gaza through Egypt, considering the situation at the Rafah crossing,” he told the Palestine Chronicle.
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Anger was clear in Danaa’s voice. He continued by saying: “Our suffering is too great. I miss my family. I was the only son of my father. He died last year and I could not see him. He was 73 when he died and I could not see him.”
“How come the PA issues permits for merchants and not issue permits for our families?” was a question which expressed Danaa’s heightened frustration.
The suffering of Danaa is the suffering of 25 deportees who ended up in Gaza. His mother, “Firas Ouda, is suffering from cancer and he wants to see her. His father had a heart attack. Raed Abyaat’s father, 83, is suffering from cancer. Naji Ebyat’s father, 84, is not allowed into Gaza. Sami Kanan’s father needs a walker to walk yet they didn’t give him a permit to visit. This is a collective punishment for us because we took part in resistance,” concluded Danaa to the Palestine Chronicle.
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Deportation has been one of Israel’s pillars for punishing Palestinians and the Gaza Strip has been a destination for dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank in the last few years, as Israel had tightened its grip around the necks of Palestinians there.
– Yousef M. Aljamal is the Palestine Chronicle Correspondent in the Gaza Strip.