Do you (COGAT soldiers at Allenby Bridge) have any way of knowing if a person was Palestinian and went abroad and lost his residency?[Even] if he’s abroad, he’ll still be in our records. I had this case, for instance, of someone who was born in Gaza and left as an infant, and like, she doesn’t live in Israel, or the [Palestinian] Authority (the testifier is referring to the West Bank) or Gaza. She lives abroad, and she didn’t know when she came back here that she’s from Gaza. She didn’t even know that she had [Palestinian] citizenship and an ID that her mother got for her when she was an infant in Gaza. When she got here, she wanted to visit family that lived in the [Palestinian] Authority itself.
In the West Bank?In the West Bank, yes. She came to visit them, and when she arrived, we told her: wait a second, you don’t have the forms. She was stopped. They stopped her.
She didn’t have the forms for what?She didn’t even have the forms for entry. She had the forms for a foreign national (based on citizenship that isn’t Palestinian), and she was a Gazan. At first, we thought that... There are different forms for Gazans, people from the [Palestinian] Authority and people from abroad. So, she brought the forms for abroad. As far as we knew at the time, she was Palestinian (here, meaning from the West Bank). Later, it turned out she was Gazan. She was a Gazan that allegedly escaped abroad.
What do you mean, escaped?She didn’t go through Israel; she went through Rafah (the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt).
So she went through Rafah, why escaped?The officers, the NCOs, the soldiers would all say “escaped” when they (Palestinians) go through Rafah.
I’m trying to figure out whether this term means something.First of all, we’re more irritated with them.
Why? There’s a border crossing at Rafah that Palestinians are allowed to use.It’s true that there’s a border crossing, but, in theory, we have records of exits and entries, and when you exit but we have no record of you going through us. It irritates us too because there’s this situation where it’s treated as if they're trying to cheat Israel by going through Rafah. People who go through Rafah don’t go through Israel, but through Egypt.
But it’s allowed.What do you mean allowed?
It’s allowed. There’s a border crossing there, with a country – the country allows people to exit through there.Right, but the way it’s treated is that there’s an Israeli closure, and this guy, I forget what it’s called, closure or?
Blockade.Blockade, he’s breaking the blockade, or like breaking the siege, that’s what we called it. He, like, escaped, and once he does that, he can’t go through Israel anymore; he has to go through Rafah. When he wants to go back to Gaza, he has to go through Rafah, and he can’t go into the Palestinian Authority at all, never, ever, ever, ever.
I got it, okay. So, Israel has no records of people entering and exiting through Rafah?No, there is no record at all. In her specific case, she...
How old was she approximately?When she came back? Late 20s, early 30s. When she came back, she came to visit family; I can’t remember if it was an aunt or a mother, or something like that, who lives in the [Palestinian] Authority. She, the mother, was a Gazan who had gotten permission to live in the [Palestinian] Authority, and when she (the traveler) came back, she didn’t even think she was considered Palestinian. We realized she was considered Palestinian because she appeared in the computer system. When we checked, she was in the system; we discovered she was registered as a Gazan, a Gazan who hadn’t gone through us, but went through Rafah. So, not only can she not get in to visit her mother, she’ll never be able to enter the territories unless there’s some special permit. As far as we were concerned, we were supposed to tell her she had to go back to Gaza.
You were supposed to tell her she had to go back to Gaza?Yes, we say: You can’t [enter] until you go to Gaza and get permission through a Fatah committee over there - this Fatah committee they have that takes care of permits for people from Gaza to enter the [Palestinian] Authority in the [occupied] territories, in the West Bank, or travel abroad. So, like, she had to go back to Gaza through Rafah and then come back with a permit she’ll never get. That’s something she’ll never get because, as far as we’re concerned, as far as the IDF is concerned, the way they told us about it, this is something that’s a big no-no - going from Gaza to Rafah.
So what ended up happening?Ultimately, she came to visit her mother, and she was sent back to Jordan. I know she came back another time to try and get in, but in principle, she’ll never be able to get in there, not a chance.