Carmi al Khatib (left) and Haithan al Khatib (inset). (Photo: Facebook)
Carmi al Khatib is a 5 year old boy from the Palestinian village of Bil’in. Soon after his birth it was discovered he had Leukemia and began treatment in Israel and fortunately, after years of illness, managed to overcome the cancer and survived. However, very recently, Carmi was hospitalised again suffering from a rare
disease known to his family from birth which is now causing further difficulties and complications. His mother, Khawal is with him at the hospital and, up until recently, so was his father Haitham al Khatib. The Civil Administration (CA) is Israel’s military arm of the government in the West Bank that deals with civilian issues such as issuing permits. Haitham’s most recent permit, issued for a month to visit his son expired about two weeks ago. Since expiring he has tried and failed to get another permit to see his son in hospital. The CA stated that the General Security Services (GSS) declared him a threat to the state and refused to renew his permit. Carmi will be in hospital until the end of November.
What has changed in that month and a half that now prevents him from visiting his son in hospital? Haitham received a permit 5 years ago for about 6 months when his son was first in hospital, during that period of time and since, the IDF has held excursions and exercises in Bil’in. Haitham would document these raids in the village which sometimes ended in random arrests and mostly always ending with something destroyed. For 4 years after this the CA refused Haitham a permit on the grounds that he is a threat to the state of Israel. All the while his son is in and out of hospital for long periods of time. His most recent permit expired over a week ago and Haitham has been trying and failing to get another permit since. Lest it not be clear; when permits are issued for hospitals Palestinians from the West Bank can only be in the hospital grounds. They are not allowed outside the gate of the hospital. This can be from one day to a few months depending of the nature of the situation.
Haitham is involved in the popular struggle in the village of Bil’in. For years the village has struggled against the Israeli occupation, building of settlements and the Separation Wall all of which resulted in Israel annexing land from Bil’in. From tying themselves to trees to taking their case to the Supreme Court they were able to shift the route. Continuing till today and until the wall comes down and the settlements stop developing Haitham and others find innovative way to ensure people do not forget the consistent violation of human rights in the occupied territories.
The state of Israel, the IDF, and their supporters use this activism as blackmail — if you participate there is less chance you will receive a permit. Haitham’s story is, unfortunately, not unique. Those seeking permits in and out of Gaza are asked to become informants on top of ‘paying’ for their way into Israel and treatment. When one village began struggling against the slow encroachment of a settlement on their land (and the military presence that comes with it) workers in the nearby Israeli-run industrial estate were told to stop participating the protests or they would lose their jobs. Needless to say the struggle and protests ended in that village on a popular level. This is to say nothing of the lack of union or union support for Palestinian workers in Israeli business in the occupied territories.
Israel is the self-proclaimed only democracy in the Middle East