Israel Refuses to Let Palestinian Couple Living in Germany Wed in West Bank

The Civil Administration says the bride is registered as a resident of the Gaza Strip, even though she left more than a decade ago

Ala Abu Nada and Omar Mohsan

Israel's Civil Administration is not allowing a Palestinian couple who live in Germany to hold their wedding ceremony in the West Bank, saying the bride is registered as a resident of the Gaza Strip even though she left more than a decade ago.

The Civil Administration in the West Bank informed the two that they “do not meet the criteria” for obtaining entry permits, but gave no further details. The couple, who hold Palestinian identity papers and have been living in Germany for years, have postponed their wedding indefinitely.

Ala Abu Nada was born in Gaza and left in 2004 for Germany, where she grew up and now lives. She met Omar Mohsan, a Hebron resident who went to Germany to study engineering, at a Palestinian convention in Malmo, Sweden. Last year the two asked the Civil Administration for permits allowing the Abu Nada family to travel from the Gaza Strip to Hebron so they could attend the wedding.

In a letter, the Civil Administration said that because the bride’s request was denied there was no reason to approve travel permits for the family. It added that travel from Gaza to the West Bank for the wedding of immediate family members is only approved when either the bride or the bridegroom are West Bank residents who live there.

In a conversation with Haaretz from Germany, Abu Nada said she met Mohsan two years ago when she was 18.

“Omar talked to my parents, who live in Cologne, and then we got engaged,” she said. “To this very moment we don’t know why they denied us entry. We only want to get married and return to Germany. It’s my dream to meet Omar’s family and celebrate my wedding there.”

Abu Nada said the wedding had been planned for April 6. She said the Israeli authorities had not contacted her and she only heard about the refusal through the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, a nonprofit organization that is helping the couple.

Ala Abu Nada and Omar Mohsan

“I have never been to the West Bank,” she added.

People at Gisha said Abu Nada was indeed registered with the Civil Administration as a Gaza Strip resident but has not lived there for 14 years. She is not requesting exit permits from Gaza for herself.

As attorney Osnat Cohen-Lifshitz, the head of Gisha’s legal department, put it, “You can be an adult American-born citizen but for Israel you remain a Palestinian and that’s how you’ll be treated. You can’t enter through Ben-Gurion Airport, and you’ll be subject to their system of permits. The origin is the dominant factor there.”

According to Cohen-Lifshitz, the difference in this case is that the request is for Gaza residents who wish to enter the West Bank. For the Civil Administration that does not fit any category.

Cohen-Lifshitz says Abu Nada and her family’s requests met the necessary requirements because permits for a wedding of an immediate family member are “on the list.” “It’s one of the main criteria,” she said.

Nidal Mohsan, Omar’s father, said his son wanted to come for seven to 10 days in order to have a party and then return and finish his studies. He believes his son will stay in Germany when he finishes his degree.

“Maybe he’ll come once a year or every year and a half for a visit,” the father said. “You know how it is.”

For its part, the Civil Administration said Abu Nada’s request was received in September and was examined by the relevant authorities.

“Her request did not meet the criteria and the permit was denied,” it said.