My mother is an illegal infiltrator. She has infiltrated her hometown, where her parents were born and where she was raised. Her activities as an infiltrator are as varied as they are nefarious: She takes my sister to school, with the neighbor’s kids. She cooks and cleans her home. We actually purchased that home so that she would have a base to operate from once she had infiltrated. She goes to the gym (I suspect infiltrators probably do need to stay in shape). She visits her sisters; I can’t say for sure if they assist her illegal activities. I’m sure they provide moral support at least. She helps care for her brother’s young children. You see my uncle might have been an infiltrator. They kicked him out of his homeland too, said he didn’t have the right permit to live there. He actually did, but they didn’t want to renew it. He was kept away from his kids for years. Eventually, he was given permission to infiltrate again, but he died a few months later, before this ruling came into effect. So maybe he became an infiltrator posthumously. I don’t know.
I’m not sure when my mother stopped being a member of the community she grew up in, or a resident of the town where she was raised. Maybe it was when she fell in love with a dangerous inmate. It wasn’t a maximum security prison back in those days-he’d actually been allowed to leave Gaza to study. They met in university: she the future infiltrator, he the future prisoner. They were in love, with each other and with Palestine. And love is what screwed them up.
They decided to get married, and you just can’t do that if you’re a Palestinian. It’s not up to you to decide who you marry and where you live and where your kids will be raised or if you can even live together in your own country. That’s all up to the Zionists to decide. So they went ahead and decided that my dad can’t live in the West Bank, because he escaped from that coastal prison. The same rule applies to me, because I was born in Gaza. I tried telling them I didn’t want to be born there, that I’d wanted to be born in Fallujah like my grandfather, but it didn’t matter to them. We were both born in Gaza, so Zionism had bestowed upon us Gaza IDs to prove it. They are in Hebrew. I don’t read Hebrew.
So my mother went back to where she grew up with her eight siblings and countless cousins and neighbors and friends and memories and all that. She went back and tried to live her life again there in the West Bank. But history always catches up with criminals; an unseen clerk in the vast monstrosity that is the Israeli occupation authority had found her guilty of marrying the inmate a couple of decades back. Her (Hebrew) West Bank ID disappeared. She got the Gaza ID instead. And suddenly, one night as she lay asleep in her bed, she became an infiltrator in her own home, her own town, her own country.
Now she is a criminal, but it only seems fitting that a Palestinian would be a criminal for living in their own home. It happened in the lands occupied in 1948, so why shouldn’t it happen in the West Bank? I haven’t seen her for a year, because I’m not allowed in and she can’t get out. And now a mother might get torn away from her kids and sisters and nephews and nieces and sent away, or maybe even thrown in jail for seven years.
This is life under the boot of Zionist population control. Going back to live in your hometown is now infiltrating. Marrying a Palestinian with the wrong ID gives the army the right to split up your family. You don’t decide where to live, or with whom. You can’t see your spouse or your children at will. And when someone in the occupation army decides to change the rules overnight, you know another aspect of normal living will have become criminalized.
Mohammad Alsaafin was born in the Khan Younis refugee camp and grew up in the UK and the US, before going back to Palestine for college at Birzeit. This was cross-posted on Kabobfest.