Life, Middle East

Israel's identity card policy deprives Palestinian couple of stable life

Differences in identity card status given by Israel complicate lives of thousands of Palestinian couples

Salam Abu Sharar   | 21.09.2021
Israel's identity card policy deprives Palestinian couple of stable life

NABLUS, Palestine 

Majdoleen Hassouneh stands on a hill in the Beit Imrin village in northwestern Palestinian city of Nablus, like she did during her childhood, looks west towards the Mediterranean coast, which she has been prevented from visiting since she was born because she is a native of the West Bank with a green identity card.

Today, she also looks beyond the barbed wire, but this time not with the curiosity of a child asking about the sea. Instead, she looks to her home, which she has not been able to settle in until now.

More than three years ago, Majdoleen began working at Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT, where she met Mohammad Khairy, who became her husband after a long love story that still faces serious challenges due to Israel's occupation policies and restrictions.

Mohammad is originally from the city of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, located south of northern Haifa city, and is forced to carry a blue Israeli nationality and identity card like other Palestinians who live in the lands occupied in 1948.

In early 2019, Mohammad’s family visited Majdoleen’s family home in Nablus. Mohammad and Majdoleen joined them via Skype to announce their engagement.

“We announced our engagement from Istanbul because it wasn’t safe for me to go back to Palestine. I will be exposed to many threats and arrested due to my activities (writing on Palestinian detainees held by Israeli authorities) if I come back,” Majdoleen told Anadolu Agency.

After several months, however, they decided to go back to Palestine for two weeks to celebrate their engagement with their families.

On Aug. 18, 2019, they went to the court in Nablus to document their marriage contract and then departed to Istanbul.

Because of differences in their identity status, Mohammad travels through the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, while Majdoleen travels via the Allenby Bridge on the border between Palestine and Jordan.

“We split up in Nablus and we agreed to meet in Istanbul. But the bad surprise was when Mohammad arrived in Istanbul and didn’t find me. At that moment, he knew that the Israeli security agencies had banned me from passing the border point,” Majdoleen said.

The Israeli security agencies on the border did not clarify the reason for the travel ban against Majdoleen and told her to check with Israeli intelligence in Nablus.

“We planned to go back to Turkey, marry there, and continue our work and study. I never thought that the two week-period would be more than two years for me,” she said.

The couple’s plans for marriage and postgraduate studies were frozen for more than two years.

Since Majdoleen is carrying a Palestinian identity card, she does not have the right to live in her husband’s city, which was occupied in 1948, and if he wants to live with her in the West Bank area, he will be deprived of many of his rights, including residence and health insurance. His identity card will also be confiscated.

“We planned to marry in Turkey to avoid these complications and live a stable life in one house like other couples throughout the world, but the occupation banned me from travel. This is an additional challenge,” Majdoleen said.

The marriage appointment has been postponed many times in the hope that Majdoleen can travel, but the Supreme Court has rejected her demands many times to travel over allegations that Israeli intelligence has secret files that affirm that she is a dangerous person.

“I will never stop my struggle to regain my right to free movement. It’s my right as a human and a journalist,” she said.

Mohammad and Majdoleen are an example of many Palestinian couples whose different colored IDs have led to an ongoing state of instability.

In their lives, green and blue are not normal colors. They reflect the policy of dispersal and differentiation pursued by the occupation against Palestinians since the occupation of 1948. This was further complicated by the construction of the apartheid wall which isolated the West Bank geographically and socially from occupied cities in 1948.

After several attempts, they decided to marry in Palestine, but until today, they cannot live a stable life in their home in Baqa al-Gharbiyye.

“Although this is not a humanitarian situation, we are trying to stay together in the face of occupation. We survived with love, with the support of family and friends around us. We are still trying to find alternatives and continue to defend our just cause,” Majdoleen said.

Majdoleen has worked in journalism for more than 13 years and she is also a human rights defender. Due to her activities, she was exposed to numerous interrogations at the investigation centers of Palestinian and Israeli security services.

“I'm here in Palestine, and being denied access to Palestine is harder than being denied leaving it. I have a home, a right, and a family in Baqa al-Gharbiyye, and I will continue to struggle until I have a right to a stable life with my husband at our house there,” she said.

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