A 14-year-old epileptic Palestinian girl was arrested and sent to the Gaza Strip for two weeks, even though her home is with her parents in the West Bank’s a-Ram neighborhood, south of Ramallah.
She had to remain in Gaza until Thursday evening, when she was finally brought back to her home. The girl was arrested as an “illegal alien” on January 13 in East Jerusalem’s Isawiyah neighborhood. She was released on bail and taken to the Gaza Strip because it was listed in Civil Administration records as her father’s place of residence.
According to a source who was present at the Erez checkpoint, the girl said explicitly that she didn’t live in the Strip but in the West Bank.
The girl, who was arrested on a bus while begging for money, was taken to a police station in East Jerusalem, her cellular telephone was taken from her and a lawyer from the Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent her, a source told Haaretz.
On the morning of January 15 she was passed over to the Israel Prison Service and the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered her released on bail. The process was completed only close to 10 P.M., after her uncle was located and he paid 1,500 shekels for her bail.
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Defense sources said the Prison Service decided to keep her overnight in the minors’ division of Neve Tirzah prison.
Prior to her release the following morning, the authorities checked with the Civil Administration and found she was registered as a Gaza resident. Her father, who is registered as a Gaza resident, is classified as an illegal alien in the West Bank because he did not receive an exit permit from the Strip, which he left in 2000. Her mother is registered as a West Bank resident.
Representatives of Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, who assisted the girl’s family, said she was born in a-Ram and had never been to the Gaza Strip.
Without verifying the details with the girl’s family, the girl was driven in a Prison Service car to the Erez checkpoint, where the wardens told her she would be taken to the Kalandia checkpoint, Moked people said.
Civil Administration officers instructed the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) employees to send the girl into the Strip, despite her protests. Only after crossing the border did she get her telephone back.
Moked activists said she was collected by a representative of the Palestinian Authority, who took her to his home. Contact with her relatives in Gaza was made the following day and the girl stayed with them for two weeks.
On Monday this week, when Moked activists learned about the incident, they demanded that Israeli authorities bring her home.
“With obtuseness that cannot be justified, nobody bothered to tell the minor where she was or made sure the family knew of her release, as is required in view of her age,” Moked lawyer Abir Jubran-Dachwar wrote.
A social activist in a-Ram said the girl’s family lives in a small room, is desperately poor and lives on money begged from people.
COGAT said, “The girl passed from the Gaza Strip today to the West Bank. She was arrested as an illegal alien and since she was registered as a Gazan resident, she was returned there.”