5th March 2016 | Hebron, occupied Hebron
25-year old Social Work student Josefin Herbach from Germany and 23-year old Abd Elrahman met doing human rights work in occupied Hebron. They were married on the 11th of November, and as Josefin planned to stay in Hebron to live with her husband, she applied for a “spouse visa” through the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in occupied Hebron.
The Palestinian Ministry can only pass the request to the Israeli authorities, who are the ones who decide who is allowed to reside in the occupied Palestinian territories and for how long, including spouses of Palestinians. On January 6th, Josefin Herbach received notice from the Israeli Ministry of the denial of her spouse visa, and that she had until the 10th of January to leave the country. Being left with no alternative, she decided to hire a lawyer to appeal this decision. Since then, the Israeli State has repeatedly asked for extensions of the court’s deadline to present their opinion on the case, and on the 4th of March has asked for yet another month to ‘prepare an offer’.
Abd Elrahman explains: “Every aspect of our lives is controlled by the Israeli occupation and they are constantly trying to make us leave. Israeli soldiers enter our homes and threaten to arrest and even kill us. But we still stay on our land. Now they want to deny my right to live with my wife.”
“I consider Al-Khalil as my home. I have a life here, all my friends and my husband. I can’t leave now. I have nothing to go back to in Germany,” Josefin says about her visa denial.
Josefin is legally able to remain in the West Bank while the court proceeding drags on, but she cannot leave the country with her husband to visit Josefin’s family in Germany, who she has not seen since the marriage. Abd has not had the chance to meet his wife’s family yet, for fear that if they left the country, she would never be allowed to re-enter.
“It’s an impossible choice – if I go visit my family in Germany, I would not be able to come back and live with my husband; and if I stay with my husband here I can not see my family”, explains Josefin.
Josefin and other human rights defenders monitor the checkpoints and provide protective presence for Palestinian children on their way to and from school in Israeli-controlled parts of occupied Hebron. Palestinian children routinely face harassment and violence from tear gas to arbitrary arrests and threats from settlers living in adjacent illegal Israeli settlements. In some areas of Hebron parents fear sending their young children to school without international presence.
Josefin and her husband needed 15.800 shekels to challenge this unjust ruling in the Israeli High Court which is the only legal route available to them. They have raised 1.800 shekels so far, which leaves them with 14.000 shekels (about 3.300€ or 3.900$) to pay for the lawyer.
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