Around 1 P.M. yesterday Intisar Ajouri, 34, and her brother Kifah, 28, found themselves stuck in some sand dunes, not knowing where they were and or where to go. They only knew they weren't at the Erez Junction, where the army was supposed to drop them off.
The two are siblings of Ali, who was a commander of suicide bomber cells, and because of that relationship the High Court of Justice on Tuesday allowed the army to "relocate" them from their Nablus home to Gaza. Intisar had sewed explosives belts for her brother, and Kifah was the lookout once when some explosives were being transferred from a car, and on another occasion he witnessed the videotaping of one of the suicide bombers' living wills.
The court ruled they have to remain in Gaza for two years. A third man whose brother-in-law had been a suicide bomber and whom the army wanted out of the West Bank was allowed to remain at home - the court ruled he did not pose a danger and that relocation of relatives was illegal as a deterrent if the person to be deported did not pose a security risk.
Their original plan was to refuse to enter the Strip. They imagined they would stay in the no-man's land between the Israeli police station and the Palestinian one, as a protest, maybe living in a tent that would be provided "until we go back to Nablus." From statements issued by the Palestinian Authority, they knew the PA had "no intention of making Israeli deportations any easier" by providing them with support.
On the contrary, Intisar told reporters and the Red Cross later, "we support the PA and reject any help from it." Otherwise, she said, "Israel will decide to empty the West bank into Gaza."
While they wandered the dunes at Erez, a gaggle of news reporters and cameramen, some human rights activists and one political representative, Jamal Zakut, a senior official in the PA and a leader from the first intifada, waited. General Intelligence officers, under the command of Amin el-Hindi, were seen on the scene, making sure that nobody planned an official "reception."
The Erez Junction plan was foiled by the army's decision not to take them there and the two found themselves alone in a vineyard at the edge of the dunes. They still didn't know that the army had dropped them off in one of the most dangerous places in the Gaza Strip. It was outside the settlement of Netzarim, south of Gaza City, in Sheikh Ijilin, not far from where four members of the Abu al Hajin family were killed last week by IDF fire.
Netzarim was built in the midst of the dunes, vineyards, and orchards of the area, and over the years the entire area around it has become a military encampment from which army fire is directed at any suspicious movement.
The brother and sister only knew they were in a dangerous place when they came across a couple who live underneath an army observation tower built on top of their home. The couple immediately realized who the two people were, and invited them home for tea.
Intisar was taken at 7 A.M. from Ramle Prison to the army base at Beit El, where she was surprised to find not only her brother Kifah but also her mother, sister, sister-in-law and her brother's two children.
Kifah had spent the night in Beit El's holding cells after being held at Ofer Camp, the detention center used for many of those arrested in the West Bank since Operation Defensive Shield. They had half an hour to say good-bye to their families, and then, with some plastic bags with personal effects and NIS 1,000 cash each given to them by the army, they were put on a truck used by the army to carry prisoners, each in a separate cell on board, shackled at their hands and feet.
After a two-hour ride, they were taken off the truck, and blindfolded before being loaded onto an armored personnel carrier. Fifteen minutes later they were dropped off in the sand dunes,.
They called Hamoked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, an Israeli human rights group in Jerusalem whose lawyers, along with lawyers from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, had represented them in the High Court petition against their deportation.
Hamoked suggested they call attorney Raji Surani of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Meanwhile, the flock of reporters, both local and foreign, continued to search for them in the Erez area. But rumors began to circulate they were in the Netzarim area.
A Palestinian photographer was the first to find them, and thrilled by his scoop, he interviewed them and interviewed them, and then, at their request took them to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
Later, he would be reprimanded by his colleagues for not understanding the national needs - they should have been photographed by the world press in the dunes, surrounded by the smashed vineyards and the army positions with Netzarim in the background and the army's observation tower, built on top of the Abu Husa family home more than a year ago.
In any case, at the offices of the human rights group, the staffers tried to keep the dozens of news people away from the two deportees until they had a chance to rest. Then, the two marched into a hall, arm in arm, for a press conference where they denied they had anything to do with the charges that were made against them.
"If the Israeli security forces and a scrap of evidence against us, they would have put us on trial and not commit the war crime of deportation," said Intisar. Dressed in black from head to toe, in orthodox Islamic garb, the trained pharmacist was clearly the more politically conscious of the two.
Her brother, Kifah, dressed in a sweat suit, spent most of the press conference silent, but while she made political statements, he spoke more personally, saying that he hadn't seen his brother Ali, whose activities were what led to them being moved from Nablus to Gaza, for several months before their arrests.
Intisar was arrested on June 3, before the terror attack in Neve She'anan in Tel Aviv, which her brother planned and commanded, says the army. Kifah and his father and brother were arrested on July 19.
That same night their three-story house with its six apartments was demolished. Kifah said he heard the explosion from the holding cell in the IDF base at Hawara. On August 6, Ali, 22, was assassinated by the army.
Ali, said Intisar, never wanted to work in Israel. But all her other brothers worked in Israel. Kifah worked as a painter, from the age of 14 until the intifada prevented him from reaching work. He worked in several places, including "Sheikh Munes in Ramat Aviv," she said, a half-smile on her face, "where our family lived until 1948."
From the press conference, the two went to the Red Cross offices in Gaza, asking for asylum, but the staff was clearly at a loss about what they should do. Last night, that's where the brother and sister of Ali Ajouri were spending the night - after the army moved them to Gaza, in the belief that it would deter other terrorists because their families would be treated similarly.
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