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A Palestinian in Dhahiat al-Barid Records a Life Transformed

Contributed by Jerusalem Quarterly on 29.11.2007:

Muhammad Abu Samra


Jerusalem Quarterly

Issue 30

Spring 2007

It is mid-November 2005.1 Together with another three families we are about to leave the neighborhood of Dhahiat al-Barid in the northern part of Jerusalem. The Israeli separation wall will soon be completed and each of us, for different reasons, must find a new home. Most of our friends have already moved away. Those left behind lack either money or documents–Israeli identity cards or Western passports that would give them access to other areas.

Amer2 and Manal are in a unique situation: he is originally from Nablus, in the West Bank and she is from Ta’mra, a small town in the Galilee, Israel. Neither can join the other in his or her hometown. He doesn’t have Israeli citizenship and, with cruel irony, possession of citizenship prevents Manal from joining her husband in his West Bank town. Every visit to her in-laws requires a permit from the Israeli military authorities allowing her to enter Nablus. In the new reality created by the wall, there is the risk that Manal, because of her Israeli citizenship, will not be allowed to continue living in her home in Dhahiat al-Barid. Amer proposes a typical Palestinian solution: both can move to Jordan, where she can stay with his relatives in Amman while he tries to find a job in Libya, an option that has become especially attractive in light of Qadhafi’s new reconciliation with America.

Aging Abu al-Sa’id must leave his home in the neighborhood in order to retain his Israeli health insurance. For 30 years, he has worked in construction in various Israeli cities. He has paid all the required fees, including that for Israeli national health insurance. But in October 2005, he received a notice from the national insurance office requiring him to prove that he lives in the city limits of Jerusalem in order to remain eligible for health services. He doesn’t think about this in terms of politics; this matter of where exactly one lives in Jerusalem, he believes, is designed to avoid paying him his dues.

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