Nativity Deportees Mark 11 Years in Exile

Twelve of 13 Palestinian resistance fighters deported to Europe in 2002 following an Israeli invasion of Bethlehem mark 11 years in exile Friday despite promises they would be repatriated after two years.

In April 2006, during a major Israeli incursion into the West Bank Israel named Operation Defensive Shield, Israeli forces besieged the Nativity Church in Bethlehem after dozens of fighters took refuge in the church.

After 40 days, the negotiations involving international organizations ended the siege with the deportation of 13 fighters to European countries and 26 others to the Gaza Strip.

Only one deportee, Abdullah Dawood from Balata refugee camp near Nablus, was repatriated to his family in Nablus in March 2010, but only after he died in Algeria. Dawood, who died at 48, was a former director of Bethlehem intelligence.

Jihad Jaara, 42, from Al-Arrub refugee camp near Hebron, was deported to Ireland. He left in Palestine a wife and four children whom he has not seen since he was deported. He told Ma’an on Thursday he is banned from leaving Ireland and is not allowed to work or study.

However, he says he managed to attend training courses and build distinct relationships with the Palestinian community in Ireland. The Palestinian Authority has been transferring monthly salaries to the deportees, he added.

Jaara highlighted that his wife delivered her youngest child Samid the day he was deported, and he has never seen Samid. His parents and one of his brothers died, and he was not able to bid them farewell.

Despite the agreement he signed with the European brokers, Jaara joined activities organized in Ireland to express solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Another deportee to Ireland, Rami al-Kamil, 33, from a village east of Bethlehem, says the major change in his life was that he married a woman in Europe. He has three children and he too isn’t allowed to work or study. The Irish authorities, he said, put him under house arrest several times. He added that his wife and children were able to visit his family in Bethlehem.

Khalil Abdulla Nawaira, 34, from the Hindaza neighborhood of Bethlehem, was deported to Belgium. He has told Ma’an Thursday his living conditions are difficult, and he pointed out that the salary he receives from the PA is far from enough as he is not allowed to work. Nawaira also missed the funeral of his mother. However, one of his brothers was able to visit him once in Belgium.

Duheisha refugee camp resident Muhammad Said Abu al-Said, 44, was deported to Italy. He says he married a Palestinian woman from Italy and the couple have three children. The same regulations apply to Abu al-Said, yet he was allowed once to travel to Jordan where he met with his parents.

Ahmad Ulayyan Hamamra, 42, from Husan village west of Bethlehem, was deported to Spain. He seems more fortunate as he was able to establish a private organization authorized to issue Halal certifications according to Islamic law.

He was not visited by a any family member since he was deported, and he was under house arrest in 2010. However, he was allowed to travel to Jordan three times where he met with family members.

(Ma’an –

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