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A honeymoon apart

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Sameeha and Ayman

Sameeha and Ayman on their Wedding Day, September 3, 2013, Gaza Port, Palestine

(This is crossposted from Sameeha Elwan’s blog Here, I was Born)

This is how we planned it: I get my Schengen visa to attend a Peace conference in Geneva and then we fly, together, to France, where we first met, for a honeymoon, his university registration and to be reunited with our friends there. “It’s going to be your gift” He promised when he emailed me the copies of our flight tickets to Switzerland.

On our wedding day, he, who left all those invited to attend the wedding, and instead of celebrating, lined in a queue under the burning sun at the Rafah Crossing demanding a number and a date to go out, didn’t come back for the wedding before insuring we do have a place. He managed to come back to the wedding in time, thankfully.

While dressed in his groom’s suit, his hands extending to help me on the stairs as I was stumbling on each staircase, and awed by the dreamy promising atmosphere of a new life ahead of both of us, and when every thing looked too beautiful to be stained by the ugliness of occupation, borders, or checkpoints, and where the worst scenario of what he would have to say when he first sees me in the White dress, white as a free cloud and coloured as happiness was “You look beautiful”, he didn’t even say that. He smiled in relief and whispered in my ear, “ I booked us two places at the Rafah Border for the 8th of September today.”

“But the 9th of September is my sister’s wedding.” I shouted in disbelief. He said, “We’ll sort that out later. It’s our wedding day. You look beautiful.”

I smiled, tried to forget that we’re going to be talking about the Rafah border, tonight in bed. I tried to forget that the border is going to interfere in the most intimate moments of our life, and that I would be getting married and think of borders at the same time. I tried to forget that for the past month , it’s all what we’ve been talking about, whether we’re going to spend our honeymoon, together, somewhere else, or not.

A week after our wedding, Ayman managed to get a permit to go out through Erez. I did not. I joked to him about it. “I am not a humanitarian case,” I bragged. As a PhD student whose academic life was threatened in case of not registering for the new academic year, Ayman had to head to France for his registration process. He applied for a permit and Gisha pushed for his case.

The next minute when the thought of thousands of students who are stuck in Gaza and the tens of friends I know who are living between the hope of leaving for their scholarships and the fear of losing them, I thought rather accurately, “ I am not a ‘privileged’ humanitarian case.”

Ayman refuses to see freedom as a privilege.

Now that he is away, I try to convince myself every day that I am not stuck here, that I am not imprisoned, that I should not involve myself in the discussion over the borders. Who amongst all this suffering would feel for me when I say I lost a chance to travel for a conference or to spend a honeymoon with my husband in a place where I can actually breathe, and that I should have been with him tonight, not here, stuck between the borders and my consciousness of my own imprisonment, and that I have a stamped visa on my passport that is painful to look at because it’s absolutely useless. I see all this pain around me and feel ashamed of my own pain.

Today I passed by the Registration Office and I tried hard to figure out how to describe the crowd I saw lining in front of the registration building to register to travel through Rafah, and I first thought of the queues of cars in front of gas stations, but this is a simile only “we” get. What about UNRWA queues for food rations, that’s too a simile only “we” get. Anyway, they were queued in a very dehumanizing way, as usual! And I wondered whether it was hope or despair that kept them standing.

Sameeha Elwan
About Sameeha Elwan

Sameeha Elwan is a Gazan studying in the UK.

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17 Responses

  1. annie
    September 28, 2013, 9:39 pm

    what a beautiful bride, beautiful couple.

  2. Citizen
    September 29, 2013, 4:19 am

    A civilized torture.

  3. Pamela Olson
    Pamela Olson
    September 29, 2013, 10:15 am

    Having just gotten married myself, I can definitely feel for a bride losing her chance at a honeymoon (not to mention having to deal with so much painful, dehumanizing, discriminatory bureaucracy). :(

    Gorgeous couple, though. Alf mabrook, I wish you many years of happiness!

    • just
      September 29, 2013, 10:21 am

      Congratulations to all of the amazing brides and grooms! Many, many wishes for happiness!

  4. just
    September 29, 2013, 10:19 am

    May your union find solace in your families collective joy and hope and in your strength.

    Thank you. I hope that you and your husband have a beautiful future- one of freedom, love and joy.

  5. Walid
    September 29, 2013, 5:05 pm

    Mabrook, Sameeha, hope your separation is only temporary. At this point, I can’t make up my mind if it’s Israel or Egypt that’s being the most cruel to the people of Gaza, especially to those that have the opportunity to study abroad.

  6. September 29, 2013, 9:16 pm

    Actually it is Hamas which has being the most cruel to the people of Gaza. It caused the confronttaion with Israel and now it causes the confrontation with Egypt which lead to the destruction of all the tunnels and blocking of the Rafah crossing. But moreover just see latest news about students rioting against Hamas.

    Hundreds of agitated Palestinian students set to study abroad stormed a barrier gate at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Sunday after being denied entry to the Sinai Peninsula and forced to wait at the border terminal for several days.

    According to Palestinian news agency Safa, the students, who contended that Hamas officials were issuing passage rights to other individuals at their expense, were blocked by guards at the site.

    At least 5,500 travelers are stranded in Gaza, the Associated Press reported, including many medical patients.

    Egyptian authorities have closed the border crossing intermittently since the military deposed president Mohammed Morsi on July 3. The terminal’s operating hours have been sharply curtailed since July, when they were shortened from nine hours per day to just four.

    • just
      September 30, 2013, 3:02 am

      Actually, fnlevit, it’s Israel’s fault. Israel is responsible for the well- being of the millions of people they hold in the iron vise of Occupation.

      Them’s the rules under international law.

      “The Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the West Bank, to the Gaza Strip, and to the entire City of Jerusalem, in order to protect the Palestinians living there. The Palestinian People living in this Palestinian Land are “protected persons” within the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention. All of their rights are sacred under international law.

      There are 149 substantive articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention that protect the rights of every one of these Palestinians living in occupied Palestine. The Israeli Government is currently violating, and has since 1967 been violating, almost each and every one of these sacred rights of the Palestinian People recognized by the Fourth Geneva Convention. Indeed, violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention are war crimes.

      So this is not a symmetrical situation. As matters of fact and of law, the gross and repeated violations of Palestinian rights by the Israeli army and Israeli settlers living illegally in occupied Palestine constitute war crimes. Conversely, the Palestinian People are defending themselves and their Land and their Homes against Israeli war crimes and Israeli war criminals, both military and civilian.”

      • mondonut
        September 30, 2013, 1:52 pm

        Except that despite the claim of the PLO mouthpiece, Gaza is not occupied by Israel. As Hamas makes perfectly clear:

        The government in Gaza believes that the clamp down on citizens’ travel comes with the acquiescence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In Abbas’ first visit to Cairo, he called for a return to the 2005 agreement, which means Rafah would be managed by Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians and European observers.

        Deputy Head of Hamas’ Political Bureau Moussa Abu Marzouq responded to the call by saying: “Insisting on the application of the 2005 Convention is a call for the return of the occupation.”

    • amigo
      September 30, 2013, 6:59 am

      levit, you are a moral vacuum and a decrepit wretch.Always blaming the victim.

      Is that what Judaism means to you.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      September 30, 2013, 8:06 am

      Oh, nonsense. Regardless of what one feels about Hamas, it is the depravity and sheer evil of the israelis, targeting the Gazan people, that is the ultimate cause of their misery. Hamas can fail or succeed in ameliorating some of the pain, but the destruction of the lives of Palestinians — especially Palestinian children — which is the israeli specialty.

  7. Eva Smagacz
    Eva Smagacz
    September 30, 2013, 3:21 am

    Your argument how Palestinians in Gaza are responsible for their own troubles is as compelling as saying that raped women ask for it, Germans were not responsible for hunger in Jewish Ghettos during second world war, and Afghanistan widows don’t deserve sympathy because they did not pray hard enough to keep their husbands safe.

    Raped woman should have welcomed sex, making it fun, Jews should have made friends with locals and Red Cross for the previous millennium, and not sponge from German Military Authority, and Afghan women………..

    Remind me again why Gaza cannot trade with the world using maritime route?

  8. September 30, 2013, 6:28 am

    I did not write “Gazans are responsible”, I wrote “it is Hamas which has being the most cruel to the people of Gaza”. Hamas, Moslem Brothers, Hezbollah, Al Queda, Asad’s junta, Ayatollas in Iran or earlier Sadam Hussein in Iraq and the like are the real enemies of their own people causing tremendous sufferings and injustice, uncomparable to anything Israel has ever done. And on this blog they are often realted to as “positive” elements of the Middle East vs the demon and villain Israel

    Look just at the total number of casulaties in the entire Israel Arab conflict from 1945 untill now. In all its wars and confrontations. Take a guess and then check in the link

    The total in more than 100 years is between 105.000 and 116.000. Do you know how many were killed in the last three years in Syria? Estimates are 115.000. Of them thousands Palestinians. Or earlier in the civil war in Lebanon? Or in Iran-Iraq war? Get the picture?
    Hitler, Stalin, Sadam Hussein, Ayatolas, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc were and are the real enemies of their own people.

  9. sjabulhawa
    September 30, 2013, 1:21 pm

    you’re a wonderful writer, Sameeha. i just read this piece elsewhere and wanted to comment here, too. All my love to you and Ayman.

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