How did a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who has never set foot in the open-air prison of Gaza find herself being dumped there by Israeli officials – alone, at night and without her parents being informed?
The terrifying ordeal – a child realising she had not been taken home but discarded in a place where she knew no one – is hard to contemplate for any parent.
And yet for Israel’s gargantuan bureaucratic structure that has ruled over Palestinians for five decades, this was just another routine error. One mishap among many that day.
A single, abstract noun – “occupation” – obscures a multitude of crimes.
What crushes Palestinian spirits is not just the calculated malevolence of Israel’s occupation authorities as they kill and imprison Palestinians, seal them in ghettos, steal land and demolish homes. It is also the system’s casual indifference to their fate.
This is a bureaucracy – of respectable men and women – that controls the smallest details of Palestinians’ lives. With the flick of a pen, everything can be turned upside down. Palestinians are viewed as numbers and bodies rather than human beings.
The story of Ghada – as she has been identified – illustrates many features of this system of control.
She was arrested last month as an “illegal alien” in her own homeland, for visiting her aunt. The two live a short distance apart but while Israel considers Ghada a resident of the West Bank, her aunt is classified a resident of…