Occupied Lives: Paralyzed in the Gaza Strip
Safaa in the PCHR Library, where the narrative was given.
Identity (ID) card request was submitted in 1997, as part of the last wave of
applications accepted by Israel prior to 2000; since that date, and
disregarding its obligations as an Occupying Power, Israel has refused to
process applications for unregistered Palestinians. After Israel took over the Gaza Strip as an
Occupying Power, hundreds of thousands of Gazans who left the Gaza Strip were
not registered, preventing them from returning to Gaza and obtaining the ID
card to which they are entitled. However,
despite being part of the formal application process, Safaa -like many other
Palestinians – has still not received an ID card, a reality which has a
profound impact on her quality of life.
Safaa moved to the Gaza
Strip in 1997, when she came to study journalism. After her marriage to a Palestinian man in
late 1997, she applied to the Israeli Authorities for the ID card to which she
is legally entitled.
Despite the fact that
Safaa applied before 2000, she has yet to receive her ID: “My application was
never rejected. My husband inquired and
I am on the list of people that are supposed to get an ID card. Yet, until today, I have received no
information and no ID card.” This means that Safaa, like so many other Gazans,
is trapped within the borders of the Gaza Strip.
Not having an ID card in
the Gaza Strip has an enormous effect on every facet of life: “I cannot travel
to see my family. I cannot get
[specialized] medical care. I cannot
fully develop myself at work. I am a
prisoner in Gaza. If I had my ID card,
my entire life could change.”
Unfortunately, in the current situation, there is little anyone can do
to help. There is no recourse for her
and so many others.
The situation has
recently become even worse. Two weeks
ago, Safaa found out that she has a serious medical condition called renal
ptosis. This rare condition occurs when
a kidney is not properly secured within the body. As a result, her right kidney has completely
rotated in her body, causing pain and suffering. Her kidney has also dropped towards her
urinary tract and is now causing severe internal problems. She would need a specialized surgery to move
her kidney within her body, including specialized staples to reaffix her kidney
within her body. Since the condition is
so rare, doctors are currently unclear how to treat her condition. It is a very real possibility that if she
does not travel outside of the Gaza Strip for medical care, her condition may
worsen: “My life here is paralyzed. Do I need to die to get my rights?” Without her ID card however, Safaa cannot
travel beyond the borders of the Gaza Strip in the event she will need specialized
Whenever there is a
change in her family’s location, Safaa makes sure to update their information
in the Palestinian Authorities database.
If Israel ever decides to give her an ID card, the Palestinian
Authorities will be able to send it to her.
When asked if she is hopeful that one day it will arrive, she gives a
sadly resigned response: “No, I do not expect to get my ID card. I have no
Thousands of Gazans are
currently living in a similar situation without ID cards. Israel controls the Palestinian population
registry and determines who in the Gaza Strip is entitled to an ID card,
according to unclear criteria. As a
result thousands of people, who are rightly entitled to be able to identify
themselves as Gazans, are left in limbo.
Having an ID card is a
basic right guaranteed to all people.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 6 states that
“Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.” UDHR Article 13 provides that everyone has
the freedom of movement. Finally, UDHR
Article 15 provides that everyone has the right to a nationality. No one can take way your right to move, live
and be a part of a country without a good reason. In the case of Palestinian people living
without ID cards, the freedoms guaranteed under international humanitarian law,
including Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, simply do not form part of their reality.
To see a video narrative given by Safaa, please click here.