Human Rights Watch

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At 31, My First Glimpse of Life Outside Gaza

Monday 19 March 2018

I was born and grew up in Gaza. My father was a soccer coach for many years and his stories about his travels to other countries always made me want to travel too. But Israel imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007, including a generalized ban on travel, and has kept Gaza mostly closed ever since. So I never made it out until now, at age 31, and now only for a little while.

I work for a global human rights organization and spent months seeking the permit from the Israeli army that would allow me to travel abroad to participate in security and research training sessions, attend key organizational meetings, and meet colleagues located just a short drive away in Jerusalem and Ramallah, as well as those based overseas. But I faced obstacles every step of the way to obtaining the documents and permissions I needed simply to leave Gaza itself – until I got a phone call on January 28.

Someone who introduced himself as an employee of the Palestinian Authority’s General Authority of Civil Affairs called to let me know that my permit had been approved and that I would travel in two days. I was in shock.

 

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