Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Israeli woman flees Gaza and her Muslim husband, with her children

The Jerusalem Post is reporting on the strange story of Oshrit Ochana, 29, an Israeli woman who married a Muslim resident of Gaza, moved there, had four children with him - and has now returned to Israel.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post just hours after her escape while on her way to her family's home in Ashdod to celebrate, she said she had reached the decision months ago to get away from her husband, Abdallah, who ekes out a living smuggling goods through the elaborate system of tunnels connecting Rafah with Egypt.

"That was no life for me and the children," she said. "The children had dreams that I wanted to make true. And we couldn't as long we remained in Gaza.

"Now I am trying to forget everything".....

Ochana and her four children - Mahmoud, seven; Abdel Rahman, five; Sali, six; and Asma, not yet two - left the apartment they shared with her husband's family on Tuesday morning....

She plans to change the names of her children to Hebrew names.

Yad L'Achim's Lipshitz, who has helped other women escape from marriages with Arabs, said there were "hundreds" of Israeli women in similar situations.

"Some are in Gaza, others are in Nablus or Tulkarm, and there are some in neighboring Arab countries," he said.

It is quite likely this assertion is true. An American-born friend of mine in Jerusalem once told me he dreaded doing miluim, or army reserve duty, in a certain West Bank town (I forget which), as his American-Jewish aunt had married an Arab man from there and set up a family. He was afraid of having to arrest or confront his own first cousins.

In any case, Ms Ochana's story does not end here. Her children, presumably, did not know she was Jewish; did not know they were Jewish. After growing up in Gaza, where hatred of Jews and of Israel is pushed daily on children's television shows, by the Islamist government and in schools, to suddenly be told they are part of the "enemy" nation (and part of a family they never knew) must be an incredible shock. It is going to take much more than a change of names to adjust.

Also, I wonder whether the father could sue for custody - she has, after all, kidnapped the children and according to Muslim law, they are Muslims. It would be an interesting case....

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