Deportee Family Prepares for a Long Wait in Bethlehem

ADELAH SHEHADEH has become accustomed to waiting. Not long ago her husband Muhammad was detained by Israeli soldiers in a midnight house arrest and imprisoned without charges for a year.

But this time, the wait is far more uncertain. Her husband is among the 415 Palestinian deportees in southern Lebanon, camped on a barren hillside between Israeli and Lebanese Army positions.

Dressed in the traditional hijab - head covering and long-sleeved garb of devout Muslim women - the 27-year-old Adelah solemnly receives solidarity visits from neighbors in an unheated guest room of her home, in a secluded neighborhood on the edge of Bethlehem.

Two four-month-old twins are swaddled tightly in blankets, while toddlers Shehadeh and Miriam smile shyly at the strangers.

"Daddy," they say, is "with Housni" - the nickname for the local Israeli intelligence officer.

Three-year-old Shehadeh was with his father visiting a neighbor when the Army came at 2:30 p.m. last Wednesday to arrest Muhammad, alleged by authorities to be an activist with Islamic Jihad, an extremist Palestinian group.

"I knew there was some sort of crisis taking place and I suspected arrests. But I was shocked. I never expected deportations. It's a very repressive decision," she says.

The Army officers who detained her husband refused to let him accompany their son home, she says, describing how the father was torn away from the crying child.

"The removal of a father from his family and children can never bring anything good," she says.

For her, the manner of the arrest and deportation was only further confirmation of what she already believed: "The Jews, it is not their custom to want peace. If they wanted peace, they wouldn't take steps like this," she explains.

"Since I have a personal conviction that the Jews don't want peace, I automatically assume the [peace] negotiations are false," she says. Except for soldiers, she has never met an Israeli.

She is aware that the massive deportation came as an Israeli government response to the kidnap-murder of a Jewish police officer in the Israeli city of Lod.

"Before you ask if I support the killing of the soldier, you should ask the reasons for killing a soldier. People are under occupation, under oppressive rule. People are in a corner. Under occupation, any method used to remove the occupation is legitimate," she says.

Asked if her husband is a member of the Jihad, she says, "I don't think so." But she admits that her own solution to the Palestinian problem is Israeli retreat, "not only from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but their total withdrawal - to the sea"

She does not expect a quick return for her husband. "I don't think enough pressure exists," she says. "Still, I have hope that I will see him again. These are things that are resolved through God's will, not through human will. We believe in faith. Age, life, and death are in the hands of God."

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