A Palestinian woman from Gaza has returned home from her three-month exile to the West Bank after living under Israeli occupation for nearly four years.
Hannah Al-Najjar, a mother of four, returned home on Thursday from a four-month mission in the occupied West Bank to find a new home.
“I came here [to Israel] to be free and have my family,” said Al-Jajjar.
“It’s my right to return, and I have no choice.”
The 29-year-old, who spent three months in the West, was in Israel for the past two years.
She was born in the Gaza Strip in 1974 and has two brothers and sisters.
“When the occupation started in 2006, I didn’t want to be there,” she said.
“I felt like I was not living in a society that respects women and children.
Israel is a patriarchal society.”
She returned home to Gaza after the Israeli army opened fire on her family while she was visiting her father in a Gaza refugee camp.
“The soldiers did not care if I was injured, or if my relatives died.
I did not have any rights.
I could not be a woman or a child,” said her father, Abdel-Hamid, who was injured when a soldier fired on his family.
“My life changed when I left Gaza, and after a year I returned home and I am living in fear.
I want to come home, to have my daughter with me, but I don’t have any money.”
The family was forced to move back to the Palestinian refugee camp of Yatta, located on the southern outskirts of the city of Hebron, after Israel closed the area off to Palestinians.
“Israel controls the lives of Palestinians in Gaza.
They use the population as human shields.
We were forced to leave,” said the father, adding that he had been unable to find his daughter since the military closed off the camp in the early 2000s.
The family returned to their home, only to be threatened by the Israelis who still live in the area, the father said.
“My daughter and I were scared to go back to Yatta because there are soldiers and settlers living in the surrounding areas.
They will not let us go,” he said.
Al-Najaar said she was very happy to return home, “but I cannot stay here forever.”
“I want to stay here because I have been through so much, and because my daughter is my life.
I love her,” she told Al Jazeera.”
There is no other place to live, and if I am going to return to my family I want my daughter to live with me,” she added.
The Palestinian Authority’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry announced on Thursday that it would launch a project to help Palestinians return to their homes.
“We are working with international partners, including Israel and the UN, to find an effective and efficient way for Palestinians who have been living under the Israeli occupation in the OPT [occupied West Bank] to return,” ICT Minister Khaled al-Bakr said.