Most of the family could not accompany Umm Issam’s body to the cemetery. They were from Hebron and were not allowed to pass the Israeli checkpoint in Beit Jala along the route to Jerusalem near Bethlehem. Most of the family could not accompany Umm Issam’s body to the cemetery. They were from Hebron and were not allowed to pass the Israeli checkpoint in Beit Jala along the route to Jerusalem near Bethlehem.
There were five minutes allotted for more than 50 people, including her mother, brother and sisters, to have their final viewing. The scene here is similar to that for residents of the Israeli occupied Golan Heights on either side of the Syrian – Israeli border.
The family gathered at the top of Beit Jala, the small city just up the hill from Bethlehem. Umm Issam’s daughter described her farewell as where the “tears and sorrow of unity and exile meet.”
She said that the family tried to get permits from Israeli forces occupying the West Bank, but were denied. However, the Waqf was able to secure a permit for the deceased woman’s body to pass through the checkpoint before the tunnel on Road 60 to reach her place of burial.
Umm Issam’s daughter continued, “We were waiting at the top of Beit Jala on a bus from Hebron. My 80 year old grandmother and my aunts and I were late because at the tunnel the barrier was backed up. Everyone was being inspected. The farewell lasted only five minutes before she was transferred to Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque.” The burial had been delayed from noon prayer time specifically for the farewell.
She said, “ I felt humiliation with my siblings when the body of our mother went on without us. We feared she would be inspected, that the soldiers at the tunnel would uncover her which is contrary to Islamic law.”
Umm Issam had been ill for two years and hospitalized for some time. Her daughter said, “We tried to obtain permits for my grandmother and aunts to see my mother in the hospital, but the Israeli authorities refused.”
She said, “After my mother died we sent the death certificate and burial permit to the military liaison for the issuance of permits for at least my grandmother and aunts to participate in the funeral, but they refused. Their argument was that it was Israel’s Independence Day. I want to know where the humanitarian laws are, human dignity and the dignity of the dead.”
Umm Issam’s brother said that some of the family were allowed to go to Jerusalem the following day. “They wanted proof of my sister’s death and we had the death certificate and identity card. After hours of beseeching my siblings were able to obtain permits for one day until 7:00 in the evening.”
The late woman’s family is separated by the Wall, the checkpoints and the arbitrary measures of the occupation.