15-year-old Ahmad
Photo: Yehudith Levin, Machsom Watch
Sasson Gabai, 'Good will'
Photo: Eyal Landsman
Photo: Haim Ziv
Gavri Banai
Photo: Haim Ziv

IDF prevents Palestinian youth from trip to sea

Machsom Watch plans 'fun day' for 50 West Bank kids at Bat Yam beach, Civil Administration approves names of all but one, citing 'security reasons'. Organization recruits some local celebrities to sign petition to make 15-year-old Ahmad's wish come true

Fifteen-year-old Palestinians Ahmad Samir Said Najjar's only wish was to go to the sea for the first time in his life, but when the Machsom Watch organization tried to make his wish come true, the military prevented it for security reasons.


A petition sent out by the organization's women touched the hearts of many, including Israeli actors Sasson Gabai and Gavri Banai.


This is the third year Machsom Watch holds a 'fun day' of recreational activities for some 50 Palestinian children and youth from the area around the West Bank city of Nablus.


The activists are meant to take the children to beach in the central city of Bat Yam, where they will get the chance to bathe in the salty water for the first time in their lives and then return the to West Bank on the same day.

Ahmad and his friends (Photo: Yehudith Levin, Machsom Watch)


The 15-year-old Najjar, from the village of Burin, who works as a bottled-water and candy vendor at the Hawara checkpoint was supposed to attend the trip as well.


But the Civil Administration, that supervises the entry and exit of Palestinians from the West Bank, approved all the names of the children on the list, except for Najjar's.


The military said this was due to security reasons, but Machsom Watch sources are convinced the decision was made without explanation or reason. "This is a 15-year-old boy, what could he possibly do?" a source said.


The organization's woman said they have known Najjar for many years now. "We can testify, beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has never been part of any security incident, including throwing stones," said the organization's spokeswoman Raiya Yaron.


'Simply inhumane'

"This is simple inhumane," added Dafna Banai, who recruited her husband Gavri to the cause. "I started to cry when I heard they wouldn't let him attend the recreational day, because it is so little, but for him it is so much," she said.


Banai said she has known Najjar "since he was a little fledgling. This is a truly sweet boy, a good boy. He has helped me out on many occasions. From the day I met him he told me that it was his dream to see the sea, something that we take for granted".


"I usually don't get my husband involved in my activity. I also didn't want to use his name, but I told him the story and he asked to help," Banai said. "I don't like to use this tool of throwing around names, but in this case, he was touched.


"We also got our good friend Sasson Gabai on board, and wrote a letter to the Civil Administration to get them to understand how absurd this is, but they just refused for no reason."


Banai's husband, Gavri said although his wife did recruit him to the cause, he believes it is just. "I ended up more involved in this case than she was," he told Ynet.


"How much can they abuse him? This is a boy. I don't like signing petitions, but case really is an exception. It really is silly. If you knew there was something behind it, then fine. But this is nothing, just a whim. This is a boy who wanted to see the beach and politics should not be involved."


Actor Sasson Gabai explained why he joined the cause. "Dafna told me about the boy, and since I know her, and know that he operates out of good will, I joined. It's very simple and there's no need to explain. It seems only human to me to allow the boy to see the sea."


The Civil Administration said in response: "All the others were approved, but this youth was not approved for security reasons."


Ali Waked contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 07.20.09, 10:02
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