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Testimony: Israel refuses to update address in population registry of Palestinian who has lived in the West Bank since 1997

Rabi' Rizeq, 27

Rabi' Rizeq

I was born in Syria. Both of my parents are Palestinians who were uprooted from their land during the 1948 war. I have one brother and two sisters.

In 1995, following the Oslo Agreement, we were permitted to return to the Gaza Strip. My father got a job in the Palestinian Police and received a Palestinian ID card, listing his address in Gaza. My siblings and I received ID numbers and began school in the Gaza Strip.

In 1997, my father got a job as head of the Ramallah police station, and we moved there. The next year, he went to the Civil Affairs Ministry and asked to update the ID cards, and our address was changed to Ramallah. We lived a normal life and had no problem moving about in the West Bank or leaving it, except for trips to Gaza, which required a special permit from Israel, but we received those without any trouble.

From 1999-2002, I traveled abroad a number of times, and once to the Gaza Strip. I didn't encounter any problems. In 2002, after Israel reoccupied the territory of the Palestinian Authority, I began to have problems with freedom of movement.

The first time was in the summer of 2002, when I got to Allenby Bridge on my way to visit family in Jordan. The Israelis detained me for three hours for no reason and didn't let me cross. I thought it was collective punishment because of the intifada.

In 2004, I went again to Allenby Bridge on my way to Jordan. I was delayed for three hours and not allowed to cross. I asked the Israeli officials there why I couldn't cross. They told me to check with the Civil Administration's office in Beit El.

From a check acquaintances of my father in the Palestinian DCL made for me, and later from a check HaMoked made for me, I learned that the reason was that the Israelis had not updated my address on their computers, where I am listed as a resident of the Gaza Strip, even though my ID card says that I live in Ramallah.

Knowing the reason, I went, in 2005, to the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior and asked them to help me correct the mistake. One of the supervisors, I don't recall his name, told me that the Israelis refuse to update on the computers the addresses of Gaza residents who moved to the West Bank, and that it was impossible to change addresses due to political circumstances.

Despite this, in the summer of 2006, I went again to Allenby Bridge in an attempt to enter Jordan to visit relatives, and also to see if the Israelis still refuse to let me go abroad. The Israelis didn't let me cross and gave me a summons to meet with a Shabak agent in Beit El. I went to the meeting at the Civil Administration's office in Beit El. I waited a whole day, from 10:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. Then an officer came over to me and said that the meeting had been postponed until two days later. I returned to the Civil Administration's office as told, and after waiting four or five hours, a Shabak agent met with me. I think he called himself Captain ‘Omer.

The meeting lasted 45 minutes. He asked me what I had done to make them prevent my leaving the West Bank, and claimed that he didn't know the reason. At the end of the meeting, he asked me if I wanted to have a cup of coffee with him in Jerusalem. At that moment, I realized he wanted me to collaborate. I told him I can't get to Jerusalem, and he said, “I'll take you and return you.” I replied, “Thanks, but I don't drink coffee.” He tried again, proposing that we go and pray on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and I told him that I didn't pray. Finally, he said, “I can't solve your problem if you don't want to solve it yourself.” The meeting ended and I left his office.

Not long after that, in that same summer, residents told me there was a sign in the Civil Administration office that anyone with a security problem can turn to the Civil Administration's office in Beit El to solve it.

On the set date, I went to the area outside the Civil Administration, It was full of people, more than 50, I estimate. After waiting three hours, I met with a Shabak official. He explained to me that the meeting was not an interrogation, but an attempt to solve my problem. He asked me some routine questions about my life, my family, friends, work. He asked me, “What did you do that prevented your travel?” I told him that I had come to the meeting to hear from him why I am prevented from travelling, and that I didn't know the reason. Then he asked me how much money I was making and if I was happy with my life, and what I thought about making more money and about being able to enter Israel. I told him that I was happy with my situation, thank Allah.

The Shabak agent asked me what I would do if I heard about or saw a person ready to carry out a terrorist attack. I told him I would inform the Palestinian Authority. He said, “What can the Palestinian Authority do? You should notify us.” I told him I am a Palestinian resident and that my ties are only with the Palestinian Authority. He asked me, “Do you understand what I want from you?” He added: “You don't want to solve your problems, and you apparently came to waste time.”

I stood up and took my ID card from the table and told him, “Yes, I don't want to solve my problems.” Before leaving the room, he told me that he has my telephone number and in the event something new happens regarding my problem, he'd notify me. I asked him not to call me, but he insisted and told me to think about the matter, and if I changed my mind, he'd be available at any time.

After that meeting, I didn't try to leave the West Bank, and to avoid checkpoints, I even refrained from leaving the Ramallah area. In May 2007, I contacted HaMoked for help in solving my problem.

On 10 July 2008, I married a woman from Ramallah, and it never crossed my mind to go abroad on a honeymoon because I knew the Israelis wouldn't let me leave.

Since early 2004, every time that I cross a checkpoint and the soldiers ask me to show them my ID card, they detain me for one, two, or three hours on the pretext of checking it. These delays led me to try and avoid checkpoints as much as possible.

The last time I was detained at a checkpoint was on 17 July, at the Container checkpoint, in Bethlehem. I was with my wife on our way from Bethlehem to Ramallah. I was driving a passenger car and the soldier ordered me to wait on the side of the road, in the car, on the pretext of checking our ID cards. We waited for an hour, and then they gave us the cards and we continued to Ramallah.

The delays at the checkpoints disrupt my life. To avoid crossing them, I refuse good job offers outside Ramallah and refrain from going on trips with my wife to other cities in the West Bank, fearing that soldiers will detain me at a checkpoint for a few hours. I think a hundred times before deciding to leave Ramallah.

I have uncles on both sides of the family and a grandmother and grandfather in Jordan whom I haven't seen in over six years. I feel isolated, as if I were living in prison. Many of my relatives and friends have pointed out to me that I have become tense and irritable.

Rabi' Ahmad Isma'il Rizeq, 27, married without children, is a clerk and resident of Ramallah. His testimony was given to Iyad Hadad in Ramallah on 20 August 2008.

Rabi' Ahmad Isma'il Rizeq, 27, married without children, is a clerk and resident of Ramallah. His testimony was given to Iyad Hadad in Ramallah on 20 August 2008.