The Citizenship and Entry to Israel Law, first enacted in 2003 as a “temporary order” and extended every year since, reflects the efforts of the Israeli apartheid regime to preserve Jewish supremacy in the entire area under its control. Any Jew in the world and his or her children, grandchildren and spouses are entitled to immigrate to Israel – including to settlements – and receive Israeli citizenship.
Palestinians live in a different reality, and as a rule cannot immigrate to the area under Israeli control. The regime has divided this area into several units and accords Palestinians a different package of rights in every one – always partial compared to the rights accorded to Jews. Palestinians’ movement between the units is restricted and requires Israeli approval, subject to the near absolute discretion of relevant officials.
Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who marry Israeli citizens or East Jerusalem residents cannot obtain permanent legal status in Israel (except in extremely rare cases). At best, women over 25 and men over 35 can, subject to the discretion of the Minister of Interior, receive temporary permits to be in Israel from the Civil Administration. These permits do not enable a reasonable lifestyle, as they do not confer social rights and can be revoked at any time.
A mother of two infants deported alone to the West Bank at night was the latest victim of this law.
Anas (24) and Nuzhah (22) ‘Afanah married in 2018. Anas is a resident of Zur Baher in East Jerusalem and has an Israeli identity card. Nuzhah is a resident of ‘Anata, a town north of Jerusalem in the West Bank, and has a Palestinian Authority identity card.
On Wednesday, 29 June 2022, at around 10:00 P.M., the couple were driving with their two daughters – Yaqin (18 months old) and Sadin (one month old) – to a pastry shop in the neighborhood of Beit Safafa in East Jerusalem, when police officers stopped them. When the officers discovered that Nuzhah is a resident of the West Bank and was in Israel without a permit, they told her she was under arrest and ordered her to get into the police car. Anas protested and after an exchange, the officers agreed to let him take Nuzhah’s place in the police car, but prevented her from taking care of the girls.
After a relative arrived to take the girls, the officers drove the couple to a police station, where they were interrogated. While Anas was being interrogated, police officers took Nuzhah to Checkpoint 300 in south Jerusalem and left her there alone, in the middle of the night. Nuzhah called her brother, who arrived half an hour later. A relative arrived with her daughters and she went to her parents’ house in ‘Anata.
In a testimony she gave on 30 June 2022, Nuzhah ‘Afanah (22) recalled:
I’ve suffered from Israel’s policy since I got married in 2018. I lived like a prisoner in my own home. I was afraid to go outside without Anas because I don’t have a permit. I never dared use public transportation within Jerusalem. Whenever I had to go to the medical center in Zur Baher, I waited at home until Anas came and took me there. When I had to give birth I got a one-day permit, just to get to hospital. Even though I lived In Jerusalem, I couldn’t even go to the beach in Jaffa, an hour’s drive away, because I was afraid I’d be arrested and deported. And yesterday, it finally happened.
The couple paid a high price for this choice. Every time Nuzhah leaves the house, she faces the possibility of being arrested and deported to the West Bank, which would cut her off from her daughters, her husband, her home and her life. It is impossible to lead a normal life – going to work, shopping, visiting friends – when every trip out of the house is a source of anxiety.
In this regard, we call on the international community to act urgently for the respect of the Palestinian people’s rights, to work to end the Israeli occupation, and to be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine as it is with what is happening to the people of Ukraine.