For the IDF, marriage isn’t a ‘humanitarian need’

What kind of future is Israel offering Palestinian women when they can’t even obtain permits to leave the country in search of a better life?

Amira Hass published an article in Haaretz last week about the Israel government rejecting a request by a young woman from Gaza to travel to Turkey in order to get married and live there. The young woman turned to Israel’s District Coordination and Liaison Office through the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee for permission to exit through the Erez Crossing into the West Bank. From there should would first travel to Jordan before taking off for Turkey.

A Palestinian man from Gaza walks down an open air corridor at the Erez Crossing terminal, the northern checkpoint leading from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the area of Beit Hanun, February 14, 2012. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
A Palestinian man from Gaza walks down an open air corridor at the Erez Crossing terminal, the northern checkpoint leading from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the area of Beit Hanun, February 14, 2012. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

According to the government’s response, weddings simply do not meet the criteria for humanitarian needs. Of course, under Israel’s policy of siege and blockade, only those with real humanitarian needs — at least as defined by Israel — can exit the Gaza Strip. After all, why should we let a young bride marry if she isn’t bringing down the Hamas government?

Meanwhile, Ma’an News Agency published an article last Monday about the number of babies born to long-serving Palestinian prisoners (through smuggled sperm) rising to 35. Rula Matar, the wife of Palestinian prisoner Fadi Matar (no familial relation – H.M.), who was sentenced to 10.5 years in Israel jail, gave birth to twins using sperm smuggled from prison to a fertility clinic in Nablus.

As opposed to the treatment of Israeli prisoners — including Yigal Amir, who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 — the state prevents Palestinian prisoners from conjugal visits, and refuses to recognize their right to bring children into the world. This only leads to an increase in sperm smuggling.

These two women have not been accused of anything. They do not endanger the security of the region. They are neither members of the Islamic State nor nuclear engineers in Iran. All they want to do is lead normal lives. The woman from Gaza wants to get married and leave Gaza — to live her life far away from here. Rula Matar gave birth eight years ago, she wanted another boy or girl (and in the end got both). Meanwhile, Israel can arbitrarily prevent these women from enjoying the most basic aspects of a normalcy.

Palestinian demonstrators hold a mock wedding during a nonviolent demonstration in the West Bank village Al-Ma’asara. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Palestinian demonstrators hold a mock wedding during a nonviolent demonstration in the West Bank village Al-Ma’asara. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

These are small, day-to-day examples of Israel’s control over the West Bank and Gaza. There are many others. What can we say to these women? What can Israeli politicians say to them? What kind of future do we offer those who live here, next to us, with us?

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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