The following shocking testimony is a sample of what an uprooted Palestinian face if s/he wish to return home, Palestine.
Nadia Hasan is a Palestinian woman with a Chilean passport. She is a human rights activist and translator. She visited Palestine once before, but since then, her only "sin" is wishing to set foot in the land that gave birth to her family, the land that is part of her. For this sin, for the racist prejudice against Palestinians, for the fear that Israelis have of facing the fact that the land they came to live on is the land that others yearn for and have been attached to for countless generations, she is paying the price.
This is her story:
30th March 2006: Nadia's experience while crossing the borders from Jordan to Palestine (borders occupied by Israel). She wrote me the following email:
Ahlen , first of all, sorry for my English, but i will explain for you what happened today.
Yesterday i came to Aqaba, and today i went to the border at 8 am.
I was nervous, but at the same time i felt good, making something that i was waiting for long time.
I crossed the Jordanian border without problems, only 15 minutes and i take my bag again and i start walking to the Palestinian side. Two armed guys were waiting there and asked me for my passport. They look each other and asked me "from where are you?, well, one of them had my passport in his hand, a Chilean passport, why they asked me!!, after i went to the check room, and two another guys were there and asked me the normal questions, well, normal for them! All the questions were about my family name, why my name is Nadia Hasan, if i am Muslim... i answered not, i am christian, but why you has a Muslim name, why you don't change it, well, 20 minutes of that and they let me pass, even they told me "Welcome to Israel, enjoy your time here"..
I went to the passport control and i big group of tourist were there, every one got their visa in less that 5 minutes. When was my turn, i saw a familiar face, the woman in the control office was the same that last year, the same that after gave me one month visa told me "if you don't like it come back to Chile, we don't want more Palestinians here!!!!".
Everything was normal, she asked me for my passport, and checked my name at the computer...., she was look at it for more that 2 minutes, at that moment i knew that my name was there, but which information they have, i don't know..., she called a guy, after another woman, after another guy..., all of them were talking in Hebrew, look at me sometimes, reading again, i don't know for how long, i was so nervous..
A new guy came to me and start to speak in Arabic with me, i told him that i don't understand, he continues speaking in Arabic...., after that he told me "Good luck" and asked me to go to the check room again. well, he didn't asked me, he order me, he told me "Move now"
I entered in the check room and i had all the Israeli security with me, more than 15 persons, all of them not more than 22, playing an important game in their life, with power in their hands and with a terrorist in front of them, i saw exciting eyes, waiting for the orders of the oldest man, the guy with the biggest m 16 in his hand.
They open all my bags, they put everything in a table and start to check it, everything...
After a young woman told me that she need to check my body, and with a smile in my face i answered, "OK, no problem", when she was checking me she told me whispering "i am sorry, but is my work, can you take of all your clothes?", i answer yes, but i want to keep my t shirt (i didn't want to show my tattoo), well, she checked me all, open your legs, close your legs, sit here, up and open your legs again, etc... like last year.
After the woman from the last year came and asked me if i was in Israel before, i answer yes, why you are coming again, i have friends here, Arabic friends she asked?, not, Israeli friends, Israelis????? (her fave change it), yes, Israeli friends, she asked me their names and i gave to her.
After asked me for my other passport, passport that i don't have of course, asked me about Gaza, about Nablus, about other Arab countries, about my name again...
Well, she left me alone, i check the time, was 10:30 am, i was thinking that my future in Palestine will depends of what she decided, and i wanted to smoke, of course i was not allowed to do it, sit there and wait!!!!
The time running, i was nervous but quite at the same time, i wait for this moment since i was refused from my homeland last year, 6 long months, and i was there again, ready for that.
I checked the time again, was 12:15, i asked if i can use the bathroom, they told me no, sit and wait!!! After 10 minutes the women came to me, i wanted cry, i knew that she has my dreams in her hands and she gave me back my passport, i take my bags (after put everything inside) and i start top walk.
I walk, with tears in my eyes, full of emotions inside me, all my memories from Palestine were in my head, in my heart, i remember in this 5 or 10 minutes every person that i met in Nablus, how much i wanted come back, how near i was.
One man stopped me and told me something that i didn't want to hear, something that was only in my nightmares, something that i listened before: "Welcome to Jordan"
I am in Aqaba again, with Palestine in front of me but more far than ever.
I checked again in the Jordanian border, i took again my bags and i start to walk. I felt my bags lighters, not so heavy than before, the tears were still in my eyes, but my legs were stronger, i am stronger, they make me feel in that way, they don't understand that every time that they refused a Palestinian at the border they recognize that the Palestinians are there, they must to use the guns to keep something that don't belong to them, they are afraid to see us trough our eyes, that we are here, near, and always will be near, they know that Palestine Exist!
I took a room in front of the sea, i will buy a bottle of wine, and this night i will drink, i will drink for Palestine, i am proud to be Palestinian.
All of you will be with me tonight.
Next day, Nadia gathers her strength and plan a new start. She wrote me an email and said:
Today is my first day in Amman, well, today its the first of many days that I will have to live in this city. I am a little paralyzed, i dont know from where I should begin, i dont know to where I should go neither what I have to do.
I am clear, in the relative clarity that we can have about an uncertain future that I will stay here the time that is necessary, I will build myself a new life until being able to recover my life, the life that I want, the one that they forced me to leave. Today I add myself to the millions of Palestinian who lives outside of Palestine, who have been displaced, who have been expelled of their homes, to those who have been denied the basic right of belonging, of being linked with a physical space, denied to founding roots and to see them to grow and to settle. The life is about that, right?, of looking for a place where you feel that you belong?, where your feet recognize the streets, and do the streets recognize your footfalls? We can be born in a certain country, to live half life in it, but your dreams and looks point to another place, to a distant space where your face feels part, where it is recognized, where it melts with the other ones, where you belong.
Jordan is the country of those displaced, of the refugees, of the Palestinian outside of Palestine. Where fictitious borders prohibit them the step, where apartheid limits castrate their return dreams, dreams of belong.
It paralyzes me the fear, the fear to melt in this mass of indifference. It paralyzes me the single possibility to assume a reality that I don't like, that disgusts me, a reality that I refuse to accept. The Palestinian outside of Palestine don't live in a place, since no place is for they own. They live in the time, their life is determined by political, economic circumstances or of any nature, that show them the path that they must to follow. They build houses, they find works, they form families, with the intention of continuing, of continuing walking, but in each one of them the word waits have a deeper sense, a wait that they dream can transform the time in place, they hope to stop to live in the time and to live in Palestine, live in their place.
Today I will begin to look for a house, to look for a work, to build a new life, but i am clear that the feeling that levies me is that of the wait, waiting that my footfalls will recognize the land that they touch, waiting that my face will melts with familiar faces again. But in this wait the strugle is bigger, the challenge imposed by the Occupation is even bigger, because we should challenge the memory, we cannot forget, we cannot allow to conquer ourselves for the indifference, we cannot forget. To conserve the scents, flavors, colors of our place will always be the best fight that we can give, to challenge to the forgetfulness and to win to the weapons, to stop to be the children of an idea of Palestine to become the children of Palestine, because while there are memories Palestine Exists and Palestine Resists!
Nadia was not broken. She was denied her "right to return" to her home, Palestine, but that's not the end of the story. From that date until few days ago, Nadia worked all she can to go home, Palestine.
For her determination to achieve what believes she was born for, her last attempt to go home was few days ago, but unlike before, this time it went worse than expected and planed.
Some of you didn't know I was planning to enter in Palestine again but I did. I got a letter from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying I was no longer refused entry into Israel. I was so happy. I packed my bag, I closed my house in Amman and I took a plane to Tel Aviv yesterday morning. Now I am writing you from Amman, I was deported again.
Everything is posted here. Sorry for my English, I hope you will be able to understand everything.
The shocking details:
First of all, I want to thank all of you for your nice words to me and your continuous and infinite support.
What happened to me yesterday is something I couldn't imagine to be possible before, not because I didn't think I could be refused again, it always was a possibility, and even I knew about the "interrogation" I would be expected to pass, but not in the way they did it.
I landed in Tel Aviv at 7 AM, I gave my passport in the passport control and after less than 2 minutes, 3 guys came to me saying they had been waiting for my arrival. They took me to a big room with all my stuff. More than 20 people there started to check every single thing. First of all, they took my mobile and wrote down in front of me every single phone number and name I have in it, they check my sms, the latest calls I made and received, the pictures on my camera, everything.
After that, they checked me, my body, my clothes, my hair, my ears, even my nails.
One guy was introduced to me as Samy (I don't remember the last name). "I am Samy, from the Ministry of Defense, it's been a few days that I've been waiting for your arrival, I will work on you today, we will put everything on the table, it will be hard because I am not a nice person, I am strong, this is why they chose me for you, you are a special person Nadia, and you will get the best security system we have, if you collaborate with us we will help you."
Samy took me to a room very far from the main center of the airport. The office has the logo of Ministry of Defense, one woman was with us all the time (according to him it was so that it wouldn't make me feel bad. He told me, "I know Arabs girls, they don't want to be alone with a man, we respect you, don't worry"). First of all, he took several pictures of me and opened a file in his computer. Asking me about my family, phone numbers, professions, number of children, addresses, everything. He made copies of my credit card saying he must check the previous movement activities on it, made copies of my ID, driver's license, the pictures of my family I have with me, writing down who is who, etc.
After all this, he started, "I am here not to check what you did in Nablus, if you worked or not, if you stayed more than the permitted time, if you engaged in illegal activities, etc. There are people working on it, my job is check about TERRORIST ACTIVITIES YOU CAN BE INVOLVED WITH. For that we need to check on the people you are related to because WE KNOW that you know 5 people, terrorist ones, the worst people here are close friends of yours. If you give us their names (despite the fact that we already have them) you will enter, if you collaborate with us, we will help you Nadia."
And the show started.
He started with people in my mobile, one by one, the 163 numbers I have. "Who is he/she, how did you meet this person, are you in touch with him until now?" etc. Every single person in my mobile (the Palestinian numbers and Jordanian numbers) were checked on his computer and immediately a picture of this person was shown. I saw Sam' s picture, Anita's picture, Yusra's picture, Sumaida's picture, etc. The problem was not with them. At one point he started asking me about people in Balata and Askar Camp, people it is supposed that I know and he was waiting for me to mention them. He told me that he's been checking on me for a few months. "Many people you know in Nablus were interrogated, and almost all of them coincide in 5 names, saying you are a very close friend of theirs. Many people in Nablus know you Nadia, and we contacted all of them. Now you must start speaking."
I didn't know who they were looking for, as you can imagine. He continued with my mobile list and he found two of these 5 names he was looking for. 3 hours of the interrogation was about a friend of mine, actually a close friend of mine. He showed me his picture, and his brother's picture. In my mobile I have an sms from him wishing me good luck for my trip, and in my camera I had a picture with his brother because I visited him two days ago in a Camp here in Jordan. I explained to him that we are friends, I told him how and where and when we met and what kind of relationship we have. The guy didn't stop calling someone by phone asking for things and immediately new pictures of people were shown on his computer and he asked me about these people, most of whom I've never seen in my life, but some of them I had seen, and even their numbers were in my mobile.
He told me that these people are the worst people here, related with terrorist activities, and how is it possible that I don't know about that if it is clear we are good friends.
I told him that I can't be blamed for what someone else did or didn't do, that I don't know what he is taking about. I explain again to him how I met these guys and everything, but he continues saying I was not telling him all the truth because he already knows the truth and I will not enter again in Israel if I don't collaborate with him providing him with more details.
After he checked my mobile again and asked me how it can be possible that from the 163 numbers I had on it only 13 are from people in Jordan and all the rest are Palestinians. "How is it possible Nadia, that a woman like you, smart, good looking, attractive woman, doesn't have more relationships with people in Jordan? How is it possible Nadia, that you go everyday from your work to your house in Amman and you don't do anything else for more than a year, because we know that. What are you planning to do, why you insist so desperately to enter in Israel, why you are so related to these terrorists? Did they ask you to do something? Have they asked you for money? Have they asked if you are married? What are you planning to do with them as soon you enter here???? We know the truth, but we want to hear it from you, and again, if you don't collaborate with us we can not help you."
After a few minutes, another guy enters in the room, Amir, and he looks at me and tells me, "Stop lying, you are hiding something and we know it. You have bad friends and your relationship with them makes you related to their activities. I don't trust you and you will not enter because of that."
After he left and I was alone again with Samy I started crying, crying like a baby, and I told him that I want to stop with this interrogation and khalas. Send me back to Jordan because I don't know what they are looking for and I am not related to anything they were thinking. Samy sat next to me and kindly told me, "You are a nice person, a strong woman, I can see, well educated. Don't make mistakes, this is your opportunity to tell the truth. We will help you: give me the other 3 names we know you know, and don't cry anymore. Why are you so nervous? Why is this is so important to you? I don't understand and if I don't understand, I can only think about you what I already think about you... I WILL NOT LET YOU ENTER IF I DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING BECAUSE I WILL BE RESPONSIBLE WHEN YOU BLOW YOURSELF UP IN TEL AVIV."
The interrogation continued, he made copies of all the pictures I have and started writing down next to each person their names and looking in his computer. He found another person in my pictures that according to him is a terrorist and he said, "Nadia, maybe you have clean hands, but if any person puts their hands in a dirty water, with time their hands will be dirty, and your hands are already black."
To make everything short, he told me, "You don't look good, your situation here is not good, you have strong connections with bad activities here, and because this world is not safe because of MUSLIMS (Nadia, remember how the world is now after September 11 because of Muslims) you are a big risk for the security of Israeli people and all the visitors of this country. Israel is a democracy, one of the best countries in the world, not like the Arab ones, and we work hard to prevent any terrorist activities here and you are not helping us with our mission."
He left me saying, "My team will decide now about what we will do with you but I don't think you will be able to enter here again, you are a risk for yourself and for others, and you can do whatever you want, like go to the COURT. If you do that, I will be happy to go there personally and make sure YOU WILL NEVER ENTER HERE AGAIN."
All this interrogation lasted from 7:20 am until 4:15 pm.
Downstairs the Chilean consul was waiting for me, I was allowed to speak with him and go out accompanied by security, to smoke a cigarette. I never saw Samy again, he didn't come back to tell me the results of the meeting, but since before I finished the interrogation, people from security told the consul I was not allowed to enter in Israel.
They asked me to go to the check room again, they checked all my bags and myself again and put me on a plane back to Amman at 7 pm.
I will finish writing this saying to all of you that I did my best yesterday. I don't think anybody is ready to face something like that, at least not me because I am not used to being treated as a terrorist. I feel sorry for all the people who are related to me; now they have all their names and phone numbers, they can check on them because of my fault. I feel like the worst collaborator in the world and I am making the life of others harder than it already is.
I don't know in which point everything turned so dirty. In my 8 months in Palestine I only did translations, met people, drank coffee with them, learning about the life in Palestine without judging anyone. I will never regret having such beautiful friends, specially this guy that for the Israelis is one of the most dangerous people in the West Bank, but I want be sure he and the rest will not have any problem because of me. I will keep apart, I don't want to collaborate to continue with the injustice they are facing since the same day they were born, only because they were born as Palestinians.
Salam to all
Today, the day after this horrible and inhumane experience, Nadia's regained her perspective and her inner strength. This is her reply to a letter:
...I am not afraid anymore. I know they were playing with me yesterday, they want to defeat me but they will never do it, I am not the weaker in this evil game, they are.
For a few months, I had been working in getting the support of the Chilean Government and I did. The Chilean Government made a very strong complaint to the Israeli Government about my previous deportation. I got the support of more than 50 deputies in Chile that personally committed with me in support of my case. I spent one month in Chile having meetings, the Chancellor included, and after all this, the Israeli Foreign Ministry provided me with a letter saying I was no longer refused entry into Israel.
Now I know the truth.
They wanted to orchestrate all of this show to humiliate me and torture me on one side and also to claim that I was linked to terrorists and that's why I was always denied entry and that's why I am denied entry now so they could fight me back on the political and diplomatic level. They want to use this ploy to repair some of the damage I caused to their foreign policy, at least with Chile. They sent me that communication to make me think that my efforts are bringing some results. At the same time, they prepared a special team to give "special" treatment. It is obvious that those doing it were instructed by the highest political authority. It's a crime. To make it look justified, they invent stories against people. I do not even know what these people are accused with anyway. If you know them or you do not is not that important even. Those people might be accused of anything, but who says that they are guilty? Which court proves those people's guilt of anything? An Israeli Army Military Court? Hell! Over 700 thousand Palestinians were arrested and detained by Israelis. How many were proved guilty of any offense, even if accusations are based on Israeli military orders that are way worse than South Africa's Apartheid system? It is them we have to bring to court. They are guilty!
Imagine, "black handed", "linked to terrorist", "come to blow herself up in Tel Aviv", yet, they let her go back!!! Simply, this is nothing but a racist prejudice against any Palestinian.
They are all terrorists, and they should be kicked out of Palestine...
Justice will come, one day, Nadia. It may take time, but the day will come...
PS. Nadia's blog in Spanish.
Cross posted at Sabbah's Blog