Israel

Will These Palestinian Christians Be Reunited With Their Families for Christmas?

The human cost of border enforcement

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Leah and George—not their real names—have lived in the Palestinian West Bank since 2016. For the first seven days, they were allowed to be there. For the last three years, nine months, and counting, they've been considered illegal aliens.

The couple is from the other Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip—a narrow piece of land sandwiched between Israel, the Mediterranean, and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. As Greek Orthodox Christians, they were always part of a tiny religious minority in a place that's more than 99 percent Muslim. But their lives had grown less and less stable in the decade after Hamas stormed to power in Gaza in June 2007.

Tragedy visited the family almost immediately after the takeover. On October 6, 2007, Leah's brother Rami—31 years old and the manager of a Protestant Christian bookshop—was abducted by Islamic fundamentalists, stabbed and shot to death, and left out in the street.

Their lives grew more difficult as the economic situation in the Strip deteriorated. Since an official goal of Hamas was to "obliterate" its Jewish neighbor, Israel responded to the change in government by launching a blockade against Gaza. As a result, nearly 2 million people today are trapped there under conditions of desperate scarcity.

The Israeli government strictly controls all of the border crossings except a single crossing controlled by Egypt,* but Gazan Christians can apply for temporary visas to visit nearby holy sites, such as the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, around the holidays. Leah and George took advantage of such a pass. Leaving their house, their cars, their jobs, and virtually everything else behind, the couple and their four children traveled to the city of Ramallah and started over from scratch.

"Hamas hasn't left anything good in that place," says George. "So we took the cross and placed our lives in God's hands."

Now that the family is in the West Bank, they no longer have the day-to-day worries of life under siege. But stability remains elusive. As another Christmas approaches—their fourth away from home—they remain separated from relatives in Gaza, including George's mother and three siblings. And anytime they venture outside the city of Ramallah, they're taking a risk: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) man security checkpoints throughout the territory; if you're stopped and your ID shows a Gaza address, you can be sent back.

Leah's sister-in-law—Rami's widow—lives in Bethlehem, an hour and 15 minutes away. Leah describes praying Hail Marys and Our Fathers the whole way to visit her. Like the sword of Damocles, the possibility of deportation hangs above them all the time.

'I Was Sick of Gaza'

The best-case scenario for people like Leah and George would be for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to formally change their address in the Palestinian population registry from Gaza to the West Bank. But since the outbreak of the second intifada two decades ago, the Israelis have refused virtually all requests to reregister Gazans in this way.

Although Ramallah and Bethlehem are both in the West Bank, getting from one to the other requires driving through territory controlled by Israel.

The second-best option is to get a "permit to remain" from COGAT. This permission, which is infrequently granted to begin with, must be renewed every few years, a process human rights groups have described as anything but pro forma. But for those who receive one, it's a temporary reprieve from the threat of being sent back.

Khalil Sayegh is one of the lucky few. At 24, the Gaza-born Christian has been in the West Bank for 10 years. The first eight of those he spent in fear. But in 2017, he was hired as a fellow by the Philos Project, an American nonprofit that promotes "positive Christian engagement in the Middle East." The group was able to get him a permit to remain, although it's set to expire in February.

I met Sayegh in September, on a Philos-sponsored trip to the Holy Land. His own story is just as ripped-from-the-movies as Leah and George's. "I was sick of Gaza—sick of persecution, sick of discrimination, also sick of war and the siege by Israel," he says. So he fled to the West Bank at age 14, against his parents' wishes. "They didn't like it, but I had to do it. Because for the last year at school, I used to face people systematically trying to convert me to Islam, including my own teachers. And I always rejected it, so they really gave me a hard time."

In Ramallah, Sayegh worked full-time, studied full-time, and crossed his fingers that he wouldn't be caught. The circumstances weren't ideal, but like illegal immigrants around the world, he found them preferable to what he had escaped.

Since getting his permit to remain, Sayegh has been able to travel safely within the West Bank. He's not sure what will happen when it expires in a couple of months, but temporary status is better than nothing. Now he's trying to help other Gazan Christians, including Leah and George, get legalized as well.

"It would definitely make things easier," Leah says. In addition to her sister-in-law in Bethlehem, the family has relatives in the Israeli city of Nazareth. "We can't go to visit them, or we go in secrecy and take a risk." George usually stays behind on such excursions—he's more likely to attract the attention of the IDF than is his wife. "If we had [West Bank] ID cards," she says, "we could go and not be afraid."

The Nightmare Scenario

In October 2009, Berlanty Azzam was two months away from completing a four-year business degree from Bethlehem University. The Gaza-born Christian was on her way back from Ramallah when the IDF picked her up. According to Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, "Berlanty was handcuffed, blindfolded, and removed to the Gaza Strip on that same day."

Israel's High Court of Justice later upheld the removal. Although it did not claim the student was a security threat, it found that she lacked the proper paperwork to be in the West Bank. Azzam said she had asked COGAT to change her address to Bethlehem but was repeatedly denied.

This is the nightmare scenario for people like Leah and George.

Freedom House classifies both Palestinian territories as "not free." But while the West Bank scored just 25 out of 100 on the group's 2019 "Freedom in the World" index, Gaza clocked in at an appalling 11. Locals describe the Strip as an open-air prison. The United Nations warned in May that the Israeli blockade had put it on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Hamas, which the U.S. government has designated a terrorist organization, officially recognizes freedom of worship. But as Sayegh points out, "when you have an Islamist government in power, the jihadists, those who are even more radical than Hamas, are empowered." Last winter, a different militant group distributed flyers warning Gazans that celebrating Christmas was forbidden. Whispered stories of kidnappings, forced conversions, and other forms of religious persecution abound. The extent of the problem is impossible to verify, but one thing is certain: The Christian population is dwindling. Just 50 miles from the place where Jesus was crucified, fewer than 1,100 of his followers remain.

For Leah and George, of course, the physical peril of life in Gaza feels more than hypothetical. Leah becomes emotional while describing what the family has been through, beginning with the loss of her brother. "Our children have a lot of sorrow," she says, wiping away a tear. "Terrible things have happened to us, but I thank God. It could have been worse."

'It Should Be Seamless'

Despite objections from humanitarian groups, Israel has stopped Gazans from formally becoming West Bank residents since 2000 and has stopped them from leaving the Strip at all, with a handful of exceptions, since 2007.

One of the loopholes has long been travel to the holy sites for Christmas and Easter. But in the last year, due to "heightened security tensions," those holiday passes have become harder to obtain. In April, Israel announced that just 200 Christians, all over the age of 55, would be permitted to leave the territory for Easter, and only for travel abroad—to Jordan or Egypt, for instance, but not to Bethlehem (where Jesus was born) or Nazareth (where he spent most of his life). After an outcry, the government reversed itself, adding another 300 visas for the West Bank and Jerusalem. 

Leah and George have been praying their remaining relatives will be allowed to come to them in Ramallah in time for the holidays, and Sayegh has been petitioning the government to make that happen. But a successful reunion would amount to a Christmas miracle. Last week, COGAT announced that it would allow a total of 500 Gazans to travel to the West Bank and Jerusalem this winter—but the group Gisha has found that applicants are being denied permits if they have family members who left on a temporary visa and then failed to come back. This means Leah and George's loved ones may face worse prospects for getting out thanks to the couple's earlier decision to flee. (COGAT did not respond to requests for comment for this story.)

All this is a source of frustration for people on both sides of the geographic divide. "Under international law, Gaza and the West Bank are a single territorial entity," says Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch's Israel and Palestine director. "So under human rights law, Palestinians should be able to move between Gaza City and Ramallah the same way you might move between, I don't know, Tennessee and Georgia. It should be seamless. Israel has no right to restrict it."

The problem is that, from the Israelis' perspective, the threat of violence emanating from the Strip is not just hypothetical either. "In the face of the Jewish occupation of Palestine," Hamas' official charter reads, "it is necessary to raise the banner of jihad." A September poll from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that more than half of Gazans view armed resistance as the best response to their situation. With bombings, stabbings, abductions, and other terroristic actions fresh in its memory, and with persecution deeply embedded in its history, the Jewish nation's impulse to lock down the source of the danger is understandable. But as with all border enforcement, it comes at a human cost—especially this time of year.

"I believe that there is a true element to the security threat," says Sayegh. "As a Palestinian Christian, even I am worried about Gaza being completely open to the West Bank, because I know how many terrorists there are.

"But there must be a way through which Israel can identify who is dangerous and who is not," he continues. "This is collective punishment."

*CORRECTION: This article originally said that the Israeli government controls all the crossings into the West Bank in Gaza. The language has been updated.

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  1. “But there must be a way through which Israel can identify who is dangerous and who is not,” he continues. “This is collective punishment.”

    The very bottom of the article could serve as a decent summary. This is the end-state for endless, nearly-limited tribalism. My tribe good, your tribe bad. Tribes = ethnic groups, religions, languages, and political parties. We get to the stage where we forget (or nearly forget) that among the enemy tribe… They may all be rapists and drug dealers and child molesters, but among them, there may be a few good people. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/donald-trump-ban-muslims-216513
    The 7 craziest things Trump has said
    His proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. might just be the craziest yet.

    The above Reason story encapsulates the end state of extreme tribalism, people!

    Are we going to have to resort to brain scans to identify the terrorists v/s the non-terrorists in our various other-hating tribes? Or could we try, first, cutting back on the tribalism?

    1. Or could we try, first, cutting back on the tribalism?

      The “tribe” known as “Islam” teaches that I should be killed for being a homosexual and atheist. The declared goal of nations representing a billion Muslims is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. And you tell me I should “cut back on my tribalism”?

      Are we going to have to resort to brain scans to identify the terrorists v/s the non-terrorists in our various other-hating tribes?

      I don’t need to freely associate with the 7.7 billion people in the world who aren’t terrorists. I’m perfectly happy to live in a nation with 330 million people, or even 10 million people, who share my classical liberal views under a government that protects my life, liberty, and property, and to exclude everybody who hasn’t clearly and positively proven themselves to share my values. That’s the way things work in a world of nation states.

      And in a libertarian world, they would work the same way, except that the enforcement would be through the private right of free association, including the right to exclude people for arbitrary reasons from private infrastructure, private businesses, and private HOAs.

      So, no “brain scans” needed. We have national borders and selective immigration laws with extensive background checks. If I want to immigrate into a Muslim nation, I have to prove that I have the moral character to immigrate there, and if anybody wants to immigrate into a Western nation, they should have to demonstrate that their beliefs and behavior conforms to classical liberalism, and that they don’t require government handouts. Furthermore, if you declare yourself to be a member of a group or ideology whose stated values contradict Western values, of course, you should not immigrate, whether that’s the Communist party or some other illiberal organization.

      Immigration is not a right. It’s perfectly fine for immigration to be highly selective and to be based on “tribal memberships”.

      1. Anyone notice his words advocate force?

        1. Where do my words “advocate force”?

          1. “We have national borders and selective immigration laws with extensive background checks.”, you said.

            If someone wants to cross a USA border, and you (or Government Almighty) do NOT want them to cross, are you going to use persuasion… Or coercion? We already know your answer! ALL meaningful laws, it seems to me, involve force or the threat of force!

            1. Well, then be specific. I don’t advocate the initiation of force, but I certainly have no problem using force to defend myself.

              Since I live in a nation state in which the US government uses massive amounts of force to take my private property and limit my freedom of association, I have no problem in using the US government myself to limit the amount of damage that’s inflicted on me.

              And let’s be clear what kind of “force” we are talking about here. As long as I pay my taxes and generally obey laws, nothing happens to me; that’s exactly the same deal as everybody else. If you violate the laws of this nation, including crossing into this country illegally, I expect and demand that you will be treated the same way I am treated when I violate laws.

              1. I do sympathize with your plight (I share it with you) of having to deal with constant unneeded and counter-productive infringements on my freedoms by Government Almighty. No arguments about that, from me!

                And I really don’t like the idea of TOTALLY open or non-existent borders either, to be totally honest. I just think that our current border policies are excessive and draconian. Government Almighty can NOT cause the seas to rise and fall, by passing laws! Nor is totally exacting and paper-and-electronics-forms-driven border control, coupled with Government Almighty bureaucracy and border walls, going to serve us well in the long run, either.

                1. Border enforcement can be easy and non violent, just look at Japan and Switzerland. The reason it isn’t in the US is because both parties want a large illegal underclass in this country.

                  1. “The reason it isn’t in the US is because both parties want a large illegal underclass in this country.”

                    Point well taken. Republicans like it, because it provides cheap labor for business. Democrats (and Republicans as well, frankly) like it, because it props up Social Security, when illegal sub-humans pay into a system that they cannot collect from. And yes, I hate to admit it, but Democrats like it, because they (Democrats) think that if-when poor illegal immigrants are finally legalized, they will mostly vote for Democrats, so as to gather “free shit”.

                    I do try to be honest from time to time…

                    But I also think that MOST immigrants (legal and illegal alike) would just like to be able to work and make an honest living!

                    1. “illegal sub-humans”

                      Get rid of this phrase from almost every post you make and your conversion from complete joke to serious poster will take the next step.

                      Seriously, this exchange between nyob2 and yourself has been an interesting read.

        2. I’m all for the use of force to keep people with a history of criminal activity, people with a history of involvement in Islamic Jihad, and people without a respect for the Constitution of my land, off my land.

          People should respect the rules of the property onto which they travel. That includes federally and state owned property, and individually owned property. If you don’t like the rules, then get them changed. Trump’s been trying to change the rules, but the Democrats won’t have it and walked out of negotiations revealing where they really stand.

          I say this even though a direct family member was killed by an illegal immigrant committing a crime, and I want a lot MORE immigration of people who will contribute positively to the country. I don’t want people who don’t share my classically liberal view that our founders instituted into the country via the Constitution, coming here and trying to force me to live otherwise.

          Yes, there’s force involved, to protect our lives, our liberty and our pursuit of happiness. There’s nothing wrong with using force to keep people off my property who intend to interfere with my life and harm me (except of course the police who often get on people’s or criminal’s property to capture criminals). That force will start with me calling the police to report them. And I might let them know I’m going to take some shots pointing at them unless the cops get here soon, and when they arrive I’ll show them my camera I used to shoot them. You get better response that way.

      2. As one of the many people that would suffer (or die ) under Islam as practiced in much of the world, I too am glad we have borders….

    2. By the way, SQRLSY One, you are essentially just echoing the communist view, namely that people need to be reeducated to lose all their tribalism and selfishness, and afterwards they can live in peace, harmony, and complete freedom with each other.

      The classical liberal view is to accept the fact that people are tribal and selfish and to give them the freedom to limit their associations accordingly and defend themselves if necessary.

      1. Hardcore communists have FORCED “re-education”… I have never advocated that! I advocate that we should VOLUNTARILY try to be more peaceful and less tribalistic! Persuasion, not coercion! BIG differences there!

        I would actually support developing more affordable and reliable methods for brain scanning… NOT for willy-nilly use on our own population (except for flushing out the “bad actors” in our “public servants”, to prevent them from working there; NOT to otherwise punish them… I do NOT support “pre-crime”).

        Brain scanning those who want to emigrate into the USA, to prevent entry to terrorists? Bring it ON, if it can be made reliable and affordable! This would be MUCH better than religion-based criteria, as supported by Trump!

        1. I propose you go to the Middle East and try to persuade some jihadis to be less tribalistic, and get back to us.

        2. I advocate that we should VOLUNTARILY try to be more peaceful and less tribalistic! Persuasion, not coercion! BIG differences there!

          There is zero difference, since “persuasion” doesn’t work. People don’t want to be part of the global cultural mush that you envision to be desirable. People like creating their own separate communities of people with similar beliefs, interests, and attitudes, whether it be Amish, libertarian, Muslim, or anything else.

          Brain scanning those who want to emigrate into the USA, to prevent entry to terrorists? Bring it ON, if it can be made reliable and affordable!

          Proving once again that you desire a dystopian nightmare, as opposed to a free society.

          This would be MUCH better than religion-based criteria, as supported by Trump!

          Why? What is wrong with saying “if you self-identify as holding an ideology that generally advocates the killing of homosexuals, atheists, and apostates, feel free to practice those beliefs in a Muslim country, but I just don’t want you as my neighbor”.

          1. Why? What is wrong with saying “if you self-identify as holding an ideology that generally advocates the killing of homosexuals, atheists, and apostates, feel free to practice those beliefs in a Muslim country, but I just don’t want you as my neighbor”.

            You are free to do that as an individual, so long as you don’t use violence or threats of violence. You shouldn’t do that with violent Government Almighty power, so long as you have any ethics or morality that are worth a damn!

            How would Christians feel about me (or you, or Government Almighty) telling them that their faith affiliation has them “self-identify(ing) as holding an ideology that generally advocates the killing of homosexuals, atheists, and apostates…”, and then discriminating against them on that basis?

            Lest you think me crazy for saying that one could (with any justice) say that about Christians, let me show you, below, what the Christian Bible can be used to justify!

            God COMMANDS us to kill EVERYONE!

            Our that them thar VALUES of society outta come from that them thar HOLY BIBLE, and if ya read it right, it actually says that God wants us to KILL EVERYBODY!!! Follow me through now: No one is righteous, NONE (Romans 3:10). Therefore, ALL must have done at least one thing bad, since they’d be righteous, had they never done anything bad. Well, maybe they haven’t actually DONE evil, maybe they THOUGHT something bad (Matt. 5:28, thoughts can be sins). In any case, they must’ve broken SOME commandment, in thinking or acting, or else they’d be righteous. James 2:10 tells us that if we’ve broken ANY commandment, we broke them ALL. Now we can’t weasel out of this by saying that the New Testament has replaced the Old Testament, because Christ said that he’s come to fulfill the old law, not to destroy it (Matt. 5:17). So we MUST conclude that all are guilty of everything. And the Old Testament lists many capital offenses! There’s working on Sunday. There’s also making sacrifices to, or worshipping, the wrong God (Exodus 22:20, Deut. 17:2-5), or even showing contempt for the Lord’s priests or judges (Deut. 17:12). All are guilty of everything, including the capital offenses. OK, so now we’re finally there… God’s Word COMMANDS us such that we’ve got to kill EVERYBODY!!!

            (I am still looking for that special exception clause for me & my friends & family… I am sure I will find it soon!)

            1. How would Christians feel about me (or you, or Government Almighty) telling them that their faith affiliation has them “self-identify(ing) as holding an ideology that generally advocates the killing of homosexuals, atheists, and apostates…”, and then discriminating against them on that basis?

              Get back to me when you find the place in the New Testament that advocates this.

              The furthest NT goes is saying they should be removed from your church after a series of escalating intercession (one on one, witnesses, church leadership).

              Nowhere is killing involved.

              You’ll have to take it up with the Jews and theocratic states if you want to reach as far as Deuteronomy to answer my question, but the simple solution is for the one at risk to leave that nation and find a home in one welcoming of that behavior just as others have done.

              1. Your points are well taken and by all appearances, benevolent. I try to be a Christian myself, or at the very-very least, appreciate MUCH of what Jesus said.

                You said…
                “Nowhere is killing involved.” In the New Testament…

                Now I don’t know if Jesus REALLY said the below, or if someone tampered with the texts, in all these intervening years. It doesn’t seem to be in keeping with a HUGE amount of what Jesus said, otherwise. But this kind of thing DOES, sad to say, appear at least a WEE tad in the NT (as well as obviously in the OT).

                https://biblehub.com/luke/19-27.htm
                New International Version
                But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.'”

                No Bible-banging from me! NOT ready to take that literally!

                1. He’s telling a parable. It has real world implications the same way the Chronicles of Narnia do.

                2. This is an excerpt from the parable of ten minas. Jesus is narrating a story here, not giving a literal commandment.

                3. Wow, SQRLSY. I don’t think you could’ve taken that out of context more if you tried.
                  By that logic, Stephen King advocates killing kids because he’s told stories where it happens.

                  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_talents_or_minas
                    “…Luke added that the nobleman instructed that his opponents should be brought to him and then be slain…”

                    We often behave like the God that we hold in our head. God is the nobleman in this parable. The unproductive slave in the parable committed NO violence or fraud… And the nobleman’s response is KILLING? What kind of God are you holding in YOUR head? A disproportionate-violence-using KILLER? I don’t care what the Bible says, this isn’t justice!

                    And it is EXTREMELY easy to find extreme people doing extremely hateful and violent things, using far less literal interpretations of “Holy Texts” of all kinds, then is the case with this parable!

                    1. SQRLSY, I’m not piling on or trying to be critical of you personally, but this is simply a very flawed interpretation of that text. The Parable of Ten Minas (and the Parable of Talents from the book of Matthew) is about stewardship in the physical absence of the “King”. Those faithful followers who wisely put to use that which has been entrusted to them are rewarded, those that do not are dealt with harshly. In the parable, the king has those who reject him put to death; in Christianity, those who reject Christ will not receive salvation or eternal life.

                      I’m not a theologian or history scholar, but I’ve never heard of any sect or denomination taking that verse from the parable as a justification for killing others, whether in contemporary churches or in antiquity.

                    2. H. Farnham, thanks for your thoughts! I wouldn’t dispute what you have to say here.

                      Christians specifically, taking literally, that which was meant metaphorically, has been (and is) a problem, though. Literal snake-handling (and getting bitten and dying) is one such example.

                      More generally, “defending God” with violence remains a problem. Admittedly, currently, certainly far more so with Islamic folks than with Christians. To me personally, God is a Big Guy, and can defend Himself. I’m NOT going to take on that job! The ending of Luke’s version of this particular parable is kinda dicey, for perhaps encouraging crazy people to take that kind of view. I would like to ask people to allow God to defend Himself, and NOT to try to take on that job, with ANY kind of violence! Libertarian crazy that I am, I hold to, “violence in 2nd-strike defensive modes only, and only proportionately; otherwise, use persuasion, not coercion”.

                      Enough speeches for now… Thanks for your thoughts!

            2. You are free to do that as an individual, so long as you don’t use violence or threats of violence.

              Not in the US. That is, in the US, the government forces me to associate with, and subsidize, anybody who immigrates into the country.

              You shouldn’t do that with violent Government Almighty power, so long as you have any ethics or morality that are worth a damn!

              Government Almighty takes half of my earnings, forces me to subsidize stuff I find morally reprehensible, and forces me to associate with people I don’t want to associate. And your response is “shut up and take it”.

              Our that them thar VALUES of society outta come from that them thar HOLY BIBLE, and if ya read it right, it actually says that God wants us to KILL EVERYBODY

              Well, if that concerns you, you’re free to emigrate to a Muslim country where you are free from the murderous oppression of Lutherans and Catholics.

        3. This would be MUCH better than religion-based criteria, as supported by Trump!

          Incidentally, that’s not what Trump supported. Trump supported a temporary ban on people coming from a small number of Muslim countries. But just go on with your TDS.

      2. “The classical liberal view is to accept the fact that people are tribal and selfish and to give them the freedom to limit their associations accordingly and defend themselves if necessary”

        I agree, provided such “associations” do not initiate force against others. The problem, is so many want to force you into an “association” via a democratic vote that takes aware more of your freedom and or money via government force, and makes their tribe superior to yours in the law.

        I sure don’t want a bunch of wolves immigrating to vote to have the sheep over for a dinner of lamb chops. E.G., anyone that supports Sharia law, doesn’t support the Constitution, I don’t want them in the US, and I want anyone that wants to immigrate to know it as well. Just like Islamic countries expect you to follow their laws.

  2. I don’t know all the technicalities, but I don’t think the West Bank and Gaza are foreign countries viz-a-viz each other. It’s not like these guys slipped through Mexico to Arizona and then decided to file refugee claims. They went from one part of the Palestinian areas to another.

    And it sounds like they’re more sinned against than sinning as far as terrorism is concerned.

    And do I miss my guess, or did Slade do some actual journalism in this situation?

    Next she can resume coverage of the Daleiden trial, which Reason did in 2017 and then dropped.

    1. After a short search, I could not find this / these older Reason article(s). For readers left wondering, what is Eddy writing about here, well, I think I might at least have the right topic area here…

      https://www.courthousenews.com/jury-finds-abortion-foes-harmed-planned-parenthood-awards-870k/
      Jury Finds Abortion Foes Harmed Planned Parenthood, Awards Over $2 Million

      1. Plus the criminal proceedings.

        According to Reason’s internal search engine, this is the most recent coverage, and it deals with the criminal case, which is still ongoing (a judge approved most of the charges for going to a jury) –

        https://reason.com/2017/03/29/anti-abortion-activists-face-dubious-eav/

    2. First, they’re “one country” the same way China and Taiwan are. Which is to say, they’re two geographically separate places, governed by two separate regimes, as a result of a war between those two regimes, with no prospect for any real political unification any time soon, but the “international community” refuses to recognize that reality.

      Second, while they’re in the parts of the Wet Bank that are actually fully under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, they aren’t having a problem. The problem crops up when they cross into areas occupied by Israel, and thus are under Israeli rule.

      And, well. The reason these guys have a precarious position when dealing with Israel is because they’re Gazans while the government of Gaza pursues a war against Israel. That’s a sucky position to be in, for sure, but “sucky” is typical of the situation of anyone who has to deal with officials from a country that their home country is fighting.

      The core issue is not Israeli policy, but the step upstream that drives Israeli policy — the fact that Gaza, under the Hamas regime, is engaging in a perpetual war with Israel. Unless and until the Hamas regime either is willing to make peace or is destroyed, it’s gonna suck for Gazans who have to deal with Israel.

      1. Well written and true, IMHO. Thanks!

      2. Let’s look at it this way – Hamas posits a division of the world into Muslims and non-Muslims (aka “infidels,” or “sons of pigs and monkeys,” or similar endearing terms). That being so, Christian Gazans may be “enemy aliens” in the technical sense, but let’s be real, how many of them would actually commit terrorism on behalf of the Hamas govt? If there’s fear that they may attack Israel as part of some secular terror group, then that would be a separate issue, but it’s an issue confronting Israel with any individual in the territories it controls.

        1. Yes, these individuals are being treated very poorly.

          Unfortunately, they’re an edge case, and edge cases are hard to handle. Humans suck at making rules that work well in edge cases, and the “solution” of giving someone “discretion” is to replace rules with giving someone the power to make arbitrary decisions in accordance with their personal incentives.

          Israel can’t write a simple, clear rule on “Gazan Christians” because there’s no way, short of serious investigation, to be sure the person claiming to be a “Gazan Christian” isn’t actually a lying terrorist. So you need a body to review applications (the COGAT organization mentioned above), full of people who will generally not get in trouble if they deny permission to a non-terrorist but certainly will get blame if they let a lying terrorist through. The inevitable result of those incentives on the people with power to give permission is a lot of trouble getting permission.

          And while they have all my sympathy, I can’t think of a practical, implementable solution as long as Hamas-run Gaza is at war with Israel.

  3. I don’t know all the technicalities, but I don’t think the West Bank and Gaza are foreign countries viz-a-viz each other. It’s not like these guys slipped through Mexico to Arizona and then decided to file refugee claims. They went from one part of the Palestinian areas to another.

    And it sounds like they’re more sinned against than sinning as far as terrorism is concerned.

    And do I miss my guess, or did Slade do some actual journalism in this situation? prepaidcardstatus(s)

    Next she can resume coverage of the Daleiden trial, which Reason did in 2017 and then dropped.

  4. I don’t have a clue about every one of the details, yet I don’t think the West Bank and Gaza are outside nations viz-a-viz one another. Dislike these folks sneaked past Mexico to Arizona and afterward chose to document exile claims. They moved between various piece of the Palestinian areas.

    Furthermore, it seems like they’re more trespassed against than erring the extent that psychological warfare is concerned.

    What’s more, do I miss my estimate, or did Slade do some real news coverage in this circumstance? prepaidcardstatus

    Next she can continue inclusion of the Daleiden preliminary, which Reason did in 2017 and afterward dropped.

  5. I hate big bots and I cannot lie.

  6. Wait — we Koch / Reason libertarians are now applying our open borders ideology to Israel? I thought we didn’t do that. In fact, I thought “Open Borders for Israel” was something only the anti-Semitic alt-right supported.

    #LibertariansForTheJewishState

    1. To me, Steph Slade above has written a human-interests, factual story, not an editorial. Did you see her applying any ideology anywhere, as is concerned, who should do what about which issues?

      “The house next door is on fire” might imply that maybe someone should put out the fire, but the fire-story-teller being accused of being a rabble-rouser, or even merely an editorialist, is certainly a flavor of lying. In straight reporting, what is implied (if anything is implied) is left for the reader to decide.

    2. Lol… except alt-right supports borders for Israel. They just support borders for everyone else, too.

  7. “I believe that there is a true element to the security threat. As a Palestinian Christian, even I am worried about Gaza being completely open to the West Bank, because I know how many terrorists there are. But there must be a way through which Israel can identify who is dangerous and who is not. This is collective punishment.” – Khalil Sayegh

    This is the crux of the matter. We have been trying to identify who is dangerous or not for the better part of 5,000 years now. I think the jury came back (repeated times): When people say they want to annihilate you, believe them. Fortunately for Christians in the Middle East, Israel is a safe haven for them also.

    The most humane solution I see for the Israelis and palestinians is voluntary incentivized palestinian emigration.

    1. Palestinian emigration to where? Historically, they have been trouble-makers in Jordan and in Lebanon (political power-grabbing and attempted power-grabbing, coups, under Yasser Arafat, for example).

      I’m not trying to be snarky… But, who will take them in? Certainly NOT the USA under Trump! And Europe is kinda tired of suffering from the scattered bursts of Islamofascist violence that they suffer there, from time to time… Fixes are hard! I hope that humans collectively can find some!

      So anyway, good and benevolent thought but… To where?

      1. To where? To wherever they wish to go, and whomever lets them in. Some will want to stay in the region. That is fine. Others will want to make their way to other regions. That is Ok too.

        I did not think you were being snarky, you asked a perfectly fair question.

        1. “To wherever they wish to go, and whomever lets them in.”

          If they are unfit to live in the land where they were born, why would anyone else want them?

    2. The most humane solution I see for the Israelis and palestinians is voluntary incentivized palestinian emigration.

      Emigration where exactly? Pretty much anybody with moderate views and some skills has already left the territories. Not even Muslim countries want them.

      1. To wherever they wish to go, and whomever lets them in.

        1. Nobody wants them. That’s the problem.

          1. NOYB2….I am not so sure this would be the case. If you’re the leader of a developing country, I would think you’d want people of some means emigrating into your country. There is potentially billions that palestinians would bring with them. The palestinians are good at business; they can help develop the country they emigrate to, using the financial incentive paid to them by Israel. There is no reason the palestinians cannot have a good life for themselves, and their families elsewhere.

            In the program of voluntary incentivized palestinian emigration, it would go on for at least a decade. There is no need for everything to happen in one fell swoop.

            1. “There is no reason the palestinians cannot have a good life for themselves, and their families elsewhere.”

              There’s no reason they couldn’t have a good life for themselves and their families where they are. Except that, as a group, they’re rather bloodthirsty. Nobody is going to take them in without some reason to believe that’s changing.

              1. Brett, I am speaking of the sizeable number of palestinians who do not, and will never, accept Israeli sovereignty. Why force them to stay in a system where they are permanently left behind. No, let this group go and build a life for themselves elsewhere, on a completely voluntary basis. It would be the best money Israel ever spent.

            2. “There is no reason the palestinians cannot have a good life for themselves, and their families elsewhere.”

              If they’re not good enough for Israel, why should anyone else accept them?

            3. The Gazans in 2005 were given control of their territory to do with as they wished. The Israelis withdrew entirely in September 2005. The Gazans had the chance to govern themselves, using their alleged business skills to build good lives for themselves and their families, and make a Hong Kong in the Mediterranean.

              What the Gazans chose, in a free and fair legislative election in January 2006, was to give Hamas the authority to to build an Islamic Ordensstaat involved in perpetual jihad.

              What sane government would want to import people from that culture?

  8. “Israel responded to the change in government by launching a blockade against Gaza. As a result, nearly 2 million people today are trapped there under conditions of desperate scarcity.”

    Say, what’s that unlabeled tan area on the map, bordering on the South of Gaza, and to the East of the West Bank? I don’t think it’s Israel, could it possibly be that both these areas have borders with OTHER countries, utterly depriving Israel of the power to unilaterally trap people there?

    1. Yeah, it’s like saying we’re “blockading” Mexico. CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY!!!

    2. Israel also heavily monitors the Egypt Gaza border and basically allows nothing across

      1. Possible only because Egypt doesn’t want those people crossing into their country, either.

        It’s not just Israel, is my point. These people are trapped because NOBODY in the area trusts them, or wants anything to do with them. And for good reason, they have a bad track record.

        I feel bad for the sane, non-vicious fraction of the Palestinian population. They’re like healthy people trapped in a quarantine zone because they’ve been exposed to some horrible plague, and nobody dares risk that they’re carriers. It’s a bad situation, and your heart goes out to them.

        Your heart goes out to children dying when a daycare gets bombed, too, though. So, what are you going to do, just drop the controls and accept that there will be mass casualties from terrorism?

  9. It’s always nice to see people arguing for Minority Report type technologies. Let’s pre-crime the fuck out of these people.

  10. Ostensible adults arguing — and killing, and dying — over superstition. Whose fairy tale can beat up whose fairy tale. Dogmatic intolerance. Nonsense.

    1. You have your own “dogmatic intolerance”, Kirkland. And the peaceful way of dealing with that is to permit everybody to live in the kind of society they prefer.

      Unfortunately, people like you want to force your way of life and your way of thinking on everybody else.

      1. Sort of like Islamists, no?

        1. Islamists probably account for fewer deaths than socialists or progressives.

  11. Many Israelis and some on the Palestinian side have become more open to a one state solution or bi-national state.

    Given the state of affairs in Gaza we can exclude it for now and focus on the West Bank. A bi-national solution advocated by some who are regarded as conservative such as Caroline Glick would be something like an open borders agreement. There would be two governments with many common interests in such things as trade, transportation, energy and other resources. An Israeli could legally live and work in Hebron. A Palestinian could legally live and work in Tel Aviv.

    Such an arrangement has advantages. If you look at the West Bank it is small and landlocked. Economically it needs Israel. Israel could have greater security and further isolate rejectionist terrorist Hamas which is a common goal shared with the PA.

    Nobody needs to give up autonomy or identity in such an arrangement.

    There is a growing sense that the two state model is no longer possible. Arafat threw that away. Abbas rejects any shared arrangement and Netanyahu has not gotten things any closer.

    It may take another generation to move ahead.

    Gaza which is self governing is another issue. The author also leaves out the fact that Egypt which Gaza was a part of until 1967 and shares a border also wants no part of it and the Islamists who have taken control.

    1. One of the signs of an anti-Semite hiding behind criticism of Israel, is when the hold Israel to a very different standard than other countries. This author attacks Israel for defending its border with Gaza, but doesn’t mention anything about Egypt doing the exact same thing….

    2. “Gaza which is self governing is another issue. ”

      Gaza, as I understand, is a refugee camp, essentially an open air prison where outsiders control access whether by air, land or sea. I can’t see how that makes it self governing. Both Israel and Egypt are self governing. It’s a mistake to put Gaza on a par with them.

      1. Self-governing countries get blockaded by their enemies in wars all the time; that doesn’t change their nature, it just means they’re at war with someone able to blockade them.

        Gaza’s own freely-elected government (Hamas won the only free, fair, and contested elections in Palestinian history in 2006, with Gaza as the center of their support) chose war with Israel, and has yet to ask for surrender terms; that Gaza is blockaded doesn’t change the character of Gaza’s governance.

        1. The conflict between Palestine and Israel didn’t start in 2006 with the election of Hamas. It goes back decades before that.

          Gaza is not a country and nobody recognizes it as a country. It’s a refugee camp and recognized as such.

      2. Mtrueman

        “Gaza, as I understand, is a refugee camp”
        Refugees from where?

        Gaza was Egypt until 1967. It is one of the oldest inhabited places on earth.

        Israel must protect its borders there in face of repeated attacks since the Hamas takeover. Surely you can understand that. If the equivalent were attacking San Antonio there would be no Gaza and no Hamas.

        Egypt on the other side of the border has the same problem.

        Nobody wants to deal with them including the Arab states.

        After the Israelis pulled out investors from gulf states built a luxury hotel there al-Mashtal. It still sits empty. Why because the whole thing was a scam and there are no tourists there. Hamas and others took the money and built a fake enterprise. I spoke with a Gaza resident who told me the same story.

        The family in this article describe the same thing. Prison, no it is not because of external control. It is failed because of Hamas and Jihadis who control everything.

        1. “Refugees from where?”

          Palestine. Gaza is a Palestinian refugee camp.

          ” Prison, no it is not because of external control.”

          Of course it’s subject to external control. Gazans are stateless people and have very limited access to the outside world. The article makes it clear that they even have trouble visiting Israel, the country they have the closest ties with.

          “Nobody wants to deal with them including the Arab states.”

          This is a conflict between Palestine and Israel. If Israel doesn’t want to come to terms with Palestine, it’s foolish to think the Arab states are going to do it for them.

          1. So the people in Gaza are Palestinian refugees in Palestinian controlled territory. Who voted for their government in elections once and never since. Sounds like a liberal peaceful democracy. How unreasonable of the Israelis.

            Gaza did not exist before…when?

            You want to swallow the Hamas line. Go ahead.

      3. “When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

        ― Golda Meir,

    3. “Given the state of affairs in Gaza we can exclude it for now ”

      Last time I remember Americans deciding that Palestinians could safely be ignored, it lead to the debacle of Leon Klinghoffer being tossed over the side of a cruise ship and Reagan reversing course to appease Palestinians. Maybe this time, it will be better.

  12. The sub-title of this article is “The human cost of border enforcement.” I thought it would be about the thousands of Israeli Jews, Christians, Muslims and Ba’hai killed and maimed by Islamic terrorists tunneling, swimming and launching rockets over, under and around Israel’s border. Instead, the article is very concerned with a few families not getting to meet for a holiday.
    Cry me a river….

  13. “ But their lives had grown less and less stable in the decade after Hamas stormed to power in Gaza in June 2007.”

    And yet their plight is Israel’s fault?

    Perhaps they could have moved to Jordan or Lebanon or Egypt?

  14. An objective person can both want Christians to be allowed in for x-mas AND understand that they can also be a security risk. One of the nastiest anti-israel terrorists in history was George Habash… a christian…and also a founder of the PFLP. Israeli Arab Christians have largely come around to accepting that Jews have sovereignty, have made peace with that [largely because they are treated well by Jews], and adjusted their dogma accordingly. Sadly, many Arab Christians outside of ‘Israel proper’ either have residual anti-Israel dogma from their past, or have been forced into anti-Israel/jew dogma by their Islamic Overlords. Bottom Line: I would like more information. Perhaps there are so many other security threats at this point that adding in another 700 people from Gaza to keep track of isnt feasible at the moment. OR it could be a putative decision I am totally against… it isnt really possible to know based on the info provided.

  15. There’s no such country as Palestine and there never was. The Israelis are enforcing their borders against terrorist attacks from a violent radical Islamist insurgency attempting to overthrow the only legitimate government.

    They’re entitled to be a hell of a lot harsher than they’ve been, and it’s a testament to the tolerance of the Israelis that they’re as lenient as they are.

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  17. Are Stephanie Slade and Shikha the same person?

  18. It is indeed complicated. The map reflects the Oslo accords from 1994 signed by Arafat who led the PLO and the Israeli government headed by Yitzhak Rabin. It was intended as a five year interim transition. The map looks complicated and is because it reflects population densities and other concerns not resolved.

    The next phase of negotiation in which Israel PM Ehud Barack at Camp David made a very generous offer when Clinton was president. Arafat stormed out and the second intifada was launched. Hopes for a negotiated two state solution have foundered ever since.

    What remained of the PLO is now Fatah. Hamas arose as a radical Islamist movement rejecting any accord or compromise with Israel. An election took place in Palestinian areas. The split between Hamas and Fatah continues and is often violent.

    Israel forcibly withdrew Israelis and its military from Gaza under Ariel Sharon in 2005. At that time there was hope for a non violent relationship. Israeli infrastructure was left intact. A border crossing for movement of goods and workers was built. There was a port and airport intended to be built. There is still some movement over that often closed border but nothing as intended. To make things worse even more radical armed groups like Islamic Jihad operate freely in Gaza and initiate attacks against both Israel and Egypt.

    The Wiki article.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_National_Authority

    Personal note. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli extremist following a speech he gave in Tel Aviv. When I visited there, now named Yizhak Rabin Plaza, there is a memorial at the place he was killed. There is a map on the wall showing exactly where Rabin and his bodyguards were standing. On the ground there are brass roundels marking the places with names on each.

    Except one. The shooter is marked as Rotzeach. Hebrew word for murderer. No other name.

    I have always admired Rabin. He was a fighter and commander in the early days. He was PM during the famous Entebbe operation in which the brother of Bibi Netanyahu current PM was killed. Always sought security without giving up principle. He set the stage for the Israel Egypt peace accords. He always sought a peaceful resolution.

  19. You have provided us with a feedable content. Thank you so much. Every company leaders looking forward to improve the productivity of their business and through proper business management process they can implement it. Download Civil Defence Past Questions

  20. There’s no such nation as Palestine and there never might have been. The Israelis are authorizing their outskirts against fear monger assaults from a rough extreme Islamist insurrection endeavoring to topple the main genuine government. prepaidcardstatus

    They’re qualified for be one serious part harsher than they’ve been, and it’s a demonstration of the resistance of the Israelis that they’re as merciful as they seem to be.

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