Opinion |

Obedience Is the Ultimate Patriotism

Thousands of requests for exit permits from Gaza are gathering dust in the Israeli offices, because the rule is that the Gaza Strip is a camp for life prisoners

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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A Palestinian woman stands by a fence at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, March 15, 2018
A Palestinian woman stands by a fence at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, March 15, 2018Credit: \ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Reports are written in invisible ink, too, and for the price of one you receive two: You think it is X and then – with a slight heating up of the newspaper, the hidden article flashes between the lines: about the Israeli’s splendid immersion in the military orders.

The unconcealed report will tell the story of a licensed pharmacist working in a hospital since 2000. She is 41 years old, a mother of four. Since 2015 she has been studying for the American Pharmacists Association’s exam in clinical pharmacology. This official certification will allow her to be much more involved in providing the proper treatment for patients, as well as being able to recommend alternatives in case of a shortage of medicines. The exam will be held Wednesday in Ramat Gan. Force majeure prevented her from taking the exam last October.

You guessed right: The pharmacist is a Palestinian, and from Gaza of all places: Samaher Amira. The force majeure is the soldier/clerks in the Israeli District Coordination Office at the Erez Checkpoint. They did not even answer her first request for an exit permit to come to Israel to take the exam. This is a well-known phenomenon: Thousands of requests for exit permits are gathering dust in the Israeli offices.

Amira did not give up. She submitted her second request on February 12 this year, for Wednesday’s exam. When the soldier/clerks did not respond to this request, either, the NGO Gisha wrote on April 22 to the commander of the DCO, Col. Iyad Sarhan. Gisha’s letter mentions that each registration for the pharmacology exam costs $700, and is nonrefundable. This time an answer actually arrived, two days later, signed by 1st Lt. Roni Vaknin, a DCO public inquiries officer. “The authorized bodies decided to refuse [the request] because it does not meet the criteria,” went the reply.

The very same answer was provided by a DCO soldier/clerk to another woman, from Jerusalem, 65-year-old Sa’ada Hasuna, who suffers from cancer and wants to see her elderly mother and sisters in Gaza. “[The request] is not approved in light of the failure to meet the criteria for Israelis entering the Gaza Strip. And this is in light of the fact that the request does not meet any of the criteria set.” This tautological answer is not signed; only a huge Israeli flag flies under the sentence, which was sent by email.

The hidden report will tell about the answer-writers and the decision makers: Your daughter, your son, or maybe yourselves or your parents. Roni Vaknin is a subordinate of Iyad Sarhan. Alongside Sarhan is the legal adviser to the DCO in Gaza, attorney Nadav Glass. But above them rises Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the IDF’s coordinator of activities in the territories. Flesh and blood Israelis. The hidden article will tell about the type of coffee and music they like, about the telephone conversation with great concern for an elderly mother, or about the book they read before going to sleep.

The coded article will tell about their joy in obeying the Ten Commandments – excuse me, the “Authorizations Document.” This is a military document that details who are the exceptions that are allowed to leave or enter Gaza. Because the rule is that the Gaza Strip is a camp for life prisoners. So the force majeure requires eight months to answer that there is no criterion that allows the pharmacist to leave for a critical exam. So it forbids a sick woman from visiting her family. Obedience is the sublime expression of patriotism.

Returning to the unconcealed report: The Be’er Sheva District Court heard Amira’s case two days ago. The representatives of the government, attorneys Zohar Barel and Orit Kartz, defended the DCO’s position that having an exam to take does not meet the criteria. Judge Yael Raz-Levi instructed Gisha to submit documents to support the claim about the exam’s importance to the pharmacist, who will be allowed to submit a third request for an exit permit for October. And Wednesday the High Court of Justice will weigh in on the question of whether a sick woman is allowed a final parting from her family.

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