A group of Israeli women smuggled 12 Palestinian woman and four children, among them a year-old baby, into Tel Aviv for a day of fun about two weeks ago. The women, among them writers Ilana Hammerman and Klil Zisapel, picked up the women from their villages, following two earlier meetings with them.
Avoiding the security forces at West Bank checkpoints, they took the women out to eat in a restaurant in Jaffa, swimming in the Mediterranean, and took them home via Jerusalem where they could see the Old City walls from afar.
Hammerman undertook a similar trip in which she brought three teenage Palestinian girls to Tel Aviv for the day, which she described in an article in Haaretz Magazine in May. Following publication of the article, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel demanded that the attorney general investigate Hammerman for smuggling illegal residents into Israel.
After the complaint was filed, peace activists with whom Hammerman is acquainted approached her with the idea of doing another trip, but more extensive this time.
Hammerman and her friends then began to seek women in West Bank villages who would be willing to take a chance on getting caught to take part in such a trip, Hammerman said yesterday and eventually, the 28 Israeli and Palestinian women and children made their way into Israel.
"We all came, we met the women, we took them in our own cars. We pulled a fast one on the army," Hammerman said.
Most of the Palestinians had never seen the sea or visited certain holy places. None of them had permits to enter Israel.
"We passed the checkpoints in our cars, knowingly breaking the laws of entry into Israel," the Israeli women wrote in an ad published in the Hebrew weekend edition of Haaretz.
"We don't recognize the legality of the entry law into Israel, which allows every Israeli and every Jew to move freely throughout most of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and denies this right to the Palestinians, to whom this land also belongs."
The ad also said the Israeli women had been greatly privileged "to experience in our country that lives by its sword one of the most beautiful and exciting days in our lives; to get to know brave Palestinian women who love life and the joy of life, and to spend time with them and to be free with them if only for one day."
Hammerman said the Israeli women wanted to spark debate in Israeli society. "None of us are anarchists, yet we broke the law. That is a symbolic act," she said.
Hammerman said the possible two-year prison term for smuggling people into Israel did not deter her.
Zisapel said yesterday that the women had wanted to "show the absurdity of this situation, of this law and what it does. The wall and the checkpoints do not keep illegal aliens, and certainly not terrorists, out of Israel."
Zisapel said some of the women wanted to see the sea, some the shops or the high-rises. One said she just wanted to breath.