From The National
The teenager locked up in Gaza, despite never living there, was viewed simply as a package, to be delivered to whatever location was on the docket
How did a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who has never set foot in the open-air prison of Gaza find herself being dumped there by Israeli officials -- alone, at night and without her parents being informed?
The terrifying ordeal -- a child realizing she had not been taken home but discarded in a place where she knew no one -- is hard to contemplate for any parent.
And yet for Israel's gargantuan bureaucratic structure that has ruled over Palestinians for five decades, this was just another routine error. One mishap among many that day.
A single, abstract noun -- "occupation" -- obscures a multitude of crimes.
What crushes Palestinian spirits is not just the calculated malevolence of Israel's occupation authorities as they kill and imprison Palestinians, seal them in ghettos, steal land and demolish homes. It is also the system's casual indifference to their fate.
This is a bureaucracy -- of respectable men and women -- that controls the smallest details of Palestinians' lives. With the flick of a pen, everything can be turned upside down. Palestinians are viewed as numbers and bodies rather than human beings.
The story of Ghada -- as she has been identified -- illustrates many features of this system of control.
She was arrested last month as an "illegal alien" in her own homeland, for visiting her aunt. The two live a short distance apart but while Israel considers Ghada a resident of the West Bank, her aunt is classified a resident of Jerusalem. They might as well be on different planets.
Ghada, we should note, suffers from epilepsy. After two days in detention and overriding opposition from Israeli police, a judge ordered her release on bail. All this happened without her parents present.
Israel controls the Palestinian population register too and had recorded Ghada wrongly as a Gaza resident, even though she was born and raised far away in the West Bank. She is separated from Gaza by Israel, which she cannot enter.
Presumably, no Israeli official wanted to harm Ghada. It was just that none cared enough to notice that she was a frightened child -- afraid of being alone, of the dark, of fences and watchtowers. And a child who needs regular medical care.
Instead she was viewed simply as a package, to be delivered to whatever location was on the docket. Despite her anguished protests, she was forced through the electronic fence into the cage of Gaza.
She was finally released by Israel and returned to her parents last Thursday, two weeks after her ordeal began.
Was this not precisely what Hannah Arendt, the Jewish philosopher of totalitarianism, meant when she identified the "banality of evil" while watching the trial of the Holocaust's architect, Adolph Eichmann, in Jerusalem in 1962?
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