Alaa (in black) during his days as a wanted man
Photo: Shaul Golan

No longer wanted: New life of Alaa Sanakra

Up until less than two years ago, he was one of most wanted men in West Bank. Following amnesty agreement, he became a member of Preventive Security Service in Nablus. Last week he began another new chapter in his life by getting married. But his past sometimes still haunts him: 'I have nightmares'

Alaa Sanakra of the Balata refugee camp was up until two years ago one of the most wanted men in the West Bank. He was the commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing, in the camp, and one of the organization's leaders in the Nablus areas and in the territories in general. But his life changed thanks to an amnesty agreement.


Last week, Sanakra got married. In the past year he has enjoyed a partial pardon as part of an amnesty agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in mid 2007, which included hundreds of wanted Fatah members.


In his parents' home, Sanakra sits next to his mother, who fails to conceal her joy and pride of her eldest son, but notes at any given moment that she does not forget her two other sons killed in Israel Defense Forces Operations – Ibrahim (who was 21 when he died) and Ahmed (who was 16).


'Had he been killed I would go crazy.' Alaa Sanakra with his mother Jamila


Talking to Ynet, Sanakra says he is very happy about the new chapter in his life. "The joy is great, because I know I was wanted. I lived the life of a wanted man and I was saved from death and confinement thanks to Allah.


"God watched over me and over my life, so I owe him my life. I thank Allah, but I also thank the PA and the 'Rais' (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) for the amnesty agreement, which allowed us to live a normal life, live in security and peace."


Sanakra says that looking back, he does not regret the seven years during which he was wanted, and the nights he fled from house to house due to the IDF's activity.


"I don't regret what happened. It's a period we all went through, and today I'm very happy about this new chapter and pray to Allah that I'll be able to compensate my mother and father for the great suffering they've experienced."


According to Sanakra, he sometimes wakes up at night fearing that IDF forces are about to come and arrest him.


"I won't deny that I sometimes wake up at night when a car passes by, and I'm tense when I hear the IDF entering Nablus. I have nightmares, but I try to avoid all these thoughts, and I nights I also turn of my phone so as not to hear that a force is entering that place or another," he admits.


Joy mixed with sadness

Alaa's mother, Jamila, who is sitting next to him, admits that in spite of her great joy she has not forgotten her two sons who were killed, including on the wedding day.


"There was a lot of happiness, but I won't lie by saying that I did not feel sad at the same time. At the wedding I danced and cried at the same time. Every given moment I remember my two children who were killed. But today I expect to see little Ahmed and Ibrahim who will be born, inshallah (God willing), to Alaa and his wife.


"I pray five times a day, and each time I ask God to give Alaa's wife twins whom we will name Ibrahim and Ahmed. I am living today for Alaa, because if he too had been killed, I think I would have gone crazy," the mother says.


She adds that she is not angry with Alaa, who may have been the reason why his brother Ahmed chose to be a wanted man. "I'm not angry with him. I know life is in God's hands and fate is from God, and I thank him for everything he brings and all he gives. It's true I would like the two of them to be with me, but there's nothing we can do. This is God's wish."


Jamila says that the eight years during which she was the mother of senior wanted men were very difficult. "The army would raid the house every night. They destroyed our house with searches, humiliations, a lot of suffering, but I am willing to experience all that again for Ibrahim and Ahmed to still be alive."


According to the mother, the most exciting moment during the wedding was when Ibrahim and Ahmed's friends hang up their pictures on the street as a decoration on the wedding day. "Everyone told me, 'Look, Ahmed and Ibrahim are here with us.'"


Alaa is today a member of the Preventive Security Service in Nablus, and is committed to the amnesty agreement. He hopes to receive a complete rather than a partial pardon, as he is now confined to the Nablus area.


Despite the new chapter in his life, Alaa cannot escape the habits of his past. During his wedding ceremony, as customary in many Palestinian communities, his friends fired several shots in the air. In spite of his status as a former senior commander and a security official, the PA did not hesitate and condemned the firing, and even sought to prosecute the shooters, some of them security officers, in a military court.


The PA eventually decided to give up on the legal proceedings, after several Fatah members intervened and noted that the event was a celebration in honor of a person who was a senior al-Aqsa member and lost his brothers, and promised that such an incident would not be repeated. The PA officials warned, however, that any similar incident would be dealt with severely.


פרסום ראשון: 04.24.09, 18:02
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