Released prisoner embraced by strangers in Gaza

Ahmed Khris, now in Gaza, hasn’t seen his family in Jordan for 17 years.

Ahmed Khris

Ola Mousa writes in The Electronic Intifada 12 February 2019

Joy filled the home of Ahmed Mohammed Abdel-Hadi Khris’ family late last year. Separated for years from Ahmed, a long-time prisoner, family members prepared themselves in December for his return.

The anticipated reunion in Baqaa refugee camp, just north of the Jordanian capital Amman, however, was not to be.

Ahmed was jailed because of his involvement in what became known as the Karine A affair. The Karine A was a boat carrying weapons that was intercepted by Israel in the Red Sea during January 2002.

After nearly 17 years of imprisonment, Israeli authorities sought to isolate Ahmed, now aged 54, by sending him to the Gaza Strip last month. Rather than meeting his family, Ahmed was embraced by former prisoners in Gaza.

Ahmed was born in Baqaa, though his family is originally from Ajjur village, northwest of Hebron in the West Bank. They were were ethnically cleansed from Ajjur by invading Israeli forces in July 1948.

Ahmed has three sons: Mohammed, Youssef and Yasser.

Gaza is not entirely unknown to him as he did work there for the Palestinian Authority’s navy beginning in 1995. Still, Gaza is not where his family lives.

“State of suffering”

Ahmed’s wife, Fatima Dawood, was saddened that she could not be there for his release. Other moments, however, have proved far more difficult. “I live,” she told The Electronic Intifada, “in a state of suffering.”

Up until 4 pm on 3 January, the family awaited Ahmed’s return from Megiddo prison in Israel. He was supposed to travel towards Amman via the Allenby Bridge that separates the occupied West Bank from Jordan. But then an official with the department of prisoners affairs in Gaza called and broke the news that Ahmed was instead deported to that territory.

Mohammed spoke for all: “We felt sorrow. We were deprived from visiting and seeing our father for 17 years as we hold Jordanian documents.”

Israeli occupation forces didn’t allow Ahmed’s family to visit him despite his engaging in a hunger strike and repeated applications submitted to Israeli prison authorities.

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