Testimony given by Alaa Abu Sultan, 23
I am married and have three children: a son, Riad, who is three, and two daughters, Raja, who is six, and Riwa, who is two years old.
In 2001, I married Muhammad Riad Shhadeh Abu Sultan. My husband is from the Rimal neighborhood in the Gaza Strip. He came to the West Bank in 1996 and lived in the Tulkarm area until 2008.
I met him while he was working at my parents’ clothing store. In August 2001, we prepared a marriage contract, and we got married in March 2002. We lived in our house in the Tulkarm refugee camp, and he worked at my parents’ store and also in construction.
My husband had a Gazan resident identity card. A few years ago, the Palestinian Authority announced that residents of Gaza living in the West Bank could exchange their identity cards for West Bank identity cards. Muhammad went to the Palestinian Population Administration office in Ramallah and on 1 October 2007, he was issued a West Bank identity card. He did it too feel safer, even though he used to travel to Nablus, Ramallah, Jenin, and Jericho and never had any problems or trouble at checkpoints.
On 12 January 2008, we went to Nablus on a visit. We entered the city from the west, via the Beit Iba checkpoint, and crossed without any problem. At noon, on the way home, the soldiers detained Muhammad at the checkpoint. I waited for him there until midnight.
I begged the soldiers to release him. My sisters, who also live in the Tulkarm refugee camp, came to find out from the soldiers what had happened, but it didn't help.
Around midnight, the soldiers told us that my husband would be sent to the Gaza Strip. I begged them and explained that we’d been married for six years and had small children who needed their father, but nothing helped.
A little while later, while my brother and I were waiting by the checkpoint, two soldiers came over with Muhammad, to let him say goodbye to us. They said they were sending him to Gaza because he is a resident of Gaza. I was in terrible pain and cried a lot. Muhammad cried as well, because all we had done was go together to Nablus in the morning, and now I had to return to the Tulkarm refugee camp alone with my brother.
My baby daughter was born on 12 November 2007, and was only two months’ old at the time. Because of my suffering after the separation from Muhammad, the milk in my breasts dried up, and I couldn’t breastfeed her any more.
My pain over the deportation of Muhammad, who is now living in the Rimal neighborhood in Gaza, grew during the war in the Gaza Strip. I constantly worry about him. He calls me daily to ask how the children and I are. But Riwa is already two years old and my husband hardly had time with her. My children don’t get a father’s hug, and they call their grandfather “daddy.”
In addition to missing Muhammad, I also suffer from the restrictions society places on women who live without their husband, especially since I’m young.
I hope that my family will be united and that my husband will return to live with me and our children in the Tulkarm refugee camp.
Alaa Hassan Muhammad Abu Sultan, 23, married with three children, owns a clothing store and lives in the Tulkarm refugee camp. She gave her testimony to ‘Abd al-Karim Sa’adi at her store on 11 October 2009.