First Palestinian eviction victim eager to return home

08:34, April 23, 2010      

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Ahmad Sabah's hope to get back to a normal life after spending nine years in an Israeli jail was scattered when he found himself deported to the Gaza Strip upon an Israeli military order.

The new Israeli order could enable the Israeli army to evict thousands of Palestinians who do not hold a West Bank residency.

Sabah looked very exhausted a day after he was deported directly from jail to the Gaza Strip.

He told Xinhua that he was determined to stay in the tent erected near the border of northern Gaza Strip and Israel, until he returns to the village of Thenaba near Tulkarem in northern West Bank.

Sabah is the first Palestinian case that faced the new Israeli army order of eviction. When he was arrested and sentenced to nine years imprisonment, he lived with his wife and children in the West Bank village. But before he came here in 1994, he used to live in Gaza.

Thousands of Palestinians returned from exile to the Gaza Strip in 1994 after the Oslo peace accords was signed in 1993, and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was first established in Gaza and Jericho. Two years later, the PNA expanded and was given control over eight West Bank cities.

Sabah is one of those Palestinians who worked for the PNA in Gaza and then moved to work in the West Bank after the PNA control on Palestinian territories expanded.

He lived in Tulkarem, where he worked for the PNA, got married and had a family until he was detained in 2001.

The Israeli eviction order was issued two weeks ago, which gave an authorization to the army commanders to evict any Palestinian, who is not originally from the West Bank and stays in the territories according to a special Israeli permission, which is temporarily given to them.

"I lived with my wife and my children in Thenaba village and I always dreamt to get back to the village at my release, but I was shocked when the Israeli prisons authorities informed me that my Identity Card was lost," said Sabah, who holds an ID which says he lives in the Gaza Strip.

He added that "they (the Israelis) bargained me either to stay in jail for an open-ended period of time or to go to the Gaza Strip," adding "there are so many prisoners in Israeli jails who have the same conditions as I do, but they hold other IDs."

Sabah, who was evicted to Gaza on Wednesday, said that the Palestinians who live under the Israeli occupation "can face eviction any time," adding that he had decided to erect a tent in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, near the border with Israel until he returns to the West Bank.

"I will use all legal means to get back home to my family in Tulkarem," said Sabah, whose family was shocked when they arrived on Wednesday at an Israeli army checkpoint in southern West Bank to receive him but discovered that the Israeli army decided to expel him to Gaza.

Inside the tent, Sabah called on rival Islamic Hamas movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party "to reunite and face the Israeli measures of eviction." He also called on the Arab League to carry the responsibility and work on stopping "this unfair Israeli order."

"I don't think that I'm the first Palestinian or the last one that has been affected by the Israeli order," said Sabah, referring to another Palestinian who is married to an Israeli-Arab woman in the Israeli city of Jaffa, who was also evicted to the Gaza Strip earlier Thursday.

Sabber al-Birari, a Palestinian from Gaza, who got married to a Palestinian woman who holds an Israeli ID and has been living with her for 15 years in Jaffa near Tel Aviv, was evicted to the Gaza Strip.

Fortunately for him, later in the day, al-Biari was allowed to return to his home in the Jewish state shortly after being deported to Gaza.

The Gaza-based Wa'ed Society for Prisoners' Rights said in a statement that Saber Al-Biari's lawyer succeeded to grab an order allowing her client to return home hours after sending him to Gaza.

Official Palestinian sources in the West Bank said that the Israeli army had erected dozens of roadblocks in the West Bank to hunt Palestinians who live in the territory and hold other kinds of IDs, to evict them to the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army measure had outraged the Palestinians.

Tayeb Abdul Rahim, chief of the Palestinian Presidency Bureau, said that the Israeli measure aims at damaging the Palestinian social texture and annulling all the peace agreements signed between Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, including the Oslo accords.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister of the deposed government of Hamas movement Ismail Haneya called on the West Bank residents "to rebel against and confront the Israeli order."

Haneya told reporters in Gaza that the Israeli eviction order against the Palestinians "is completely rejected by our people," stressing that "the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are one Palestinian geographical unit."

In Gaza, the PLO factions had also slammed the Israeli army order of eviction, where they called on international rights groups to intervene to stop the implementation of the order and called for stepping up popular protests against it.



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