Interior ministry refuses his request because of petty juvenile criminal record.
A Palestinian who helped the Israel Defense Forces and turned in terrorists is in danger of his life. The Palestinian Authority wants him for collaboration, and Israel will not give him shelter.
A-Rahim Mabruchi, 27, was forced to go on a suicide-bombing mission in Nablus two years ago. Terrorists who captured him forced him to put on an explosive belt at the threat of a knife and sent him to blow himself up near Israeli soldiers in town. But instead, Mabruchi turned his handlers in to the soldiers.
Since then his life has been in danger. Israel refuses to let him enter, although his wife lives there, while the Palestinian Authority's security forces are determined to kill him. He knows it is only a matter of time until they find him.
Mabruchi's sad life story began when he was a child. His mother was kidnapped and murdered in 1989, during the first Intifada, because she was suspected of collaboration with Israel. After the murder he felt he had no chance of making a life for himself in Nablus and fled to the Israeli town of Taibeh, There he started working in a local banquet hall and shortly afterward was recruited as a police informer.
Two years later he decided to move to Netanya, where he got involved with criminals and took part in criminal activities. In 1994, at the age of 17, he was arrested on suspicion of theft. "I admitted to security offenses I had nothing to do with, like throwing stones and petrol bombs", he says. "I did it in an attempt to find my mother's murderers".
When he was released from prison at the end of 1997, Mabruchi returned to Nablus. But shortly afterward the Palestinian preventive security authorities summoned him for interrogation. They accused him of collaborating with Israeli's General Security Service (GSS), and remanded him in administrative custody for six months.
After his release, Mabruchi realized he would not survive in the Palestinian Authority and escaped to Israel. His luck, however, did not improve. At the opening of the second Intifada, after being arrested several times for staying in Israel without a permit, he tried to return to Nablus again. There he was arrested by the preventive security service and sent to prison. But in operation Defensive Shield Israeli forces broke into the prison and released 120 prisoners suspected of collaboration with Israel, including Mabruchi.
Mabruchi was taken to the IDF roadblock in Hawara near Nablus, but had nowhere to go from there. Since the military operation in the territories was still in progress, all the roads to Israel were blocked and he was forced to return to Nablus. For the first two days he stayed with his grandmother, but his uncle, a senior officer in the preventive security service and one of the leaders of the town's Al-Aqsa Brigades, turned him in to the militant Tanzim group.
The Tanzim people led him to a safe house, while Israeli troops were fighting in Nablus and the town's central marketplace. "Since they knew my uncle, they decided to give me a chance to clear my name. They forced me to put on an explosive vest and ordered me to blow myself up against the soldiers", he says.
Mabruchi refused, and one of the militants took out a knife and cut him several times to make his point. Mabruchi decided to try his luck outside. He told the terrorists he agreed and went out into the street. Spotting a group of Israeli soldiers he started shouting to them in Hebrew not to come near him. The Tanzim men realized what he was doing and opened fire on him.
Mabruchi lay flat on the ground, signaling the soldiers with his hand in the direction of the militants. The militants and soldiers started firing at each other. One of the terrorists died and the others were caught. The soldiers removed the explosive vest from Mabruchi, whose entire body was bleeding from the knife wounds. He was taken once again to the Hawara barricade, where he stayed for two days, but again Israel rejected his request to enter it.
Mabruchi moved in with his father in Bidia, where he met a young woman in a similar predicament. Tamam Abu-Bachar was the daughter of the village mukhtar who had been murdered and set on fire for collaborating with Israel. Tamam, who had a blue identity card (issued to Arab residents of Israel), married Mabruchi and the two moved to the Arab town Shfar'am, in Israel. Five months elapsed, during which Mabruchi worked as a gardener, until he was arrested by the Israeli authorities for staying in Israel illegally. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.
Since his release, Mabruchi has been in hiding. He does not dare enter Israel for fear of being caught again.
"Last time I was arrested, my wife suffered very much", he says. "I don't want her to go through it again".
The Palestinian towns are also off limit for him. Two months ago he visited his father in Bidia and in the middle of the night the preventive security people arrived and hauled him to the Salfit station for interrogation. "They undressed me, hung me by the hands from the ceiling, poured cold water on me and then started beating me with a rubber pipe on my legs", he says. The Palestinian interrogators did not stop until his leg broke. "After a month they let me out of the cell" he says.
Once he managed to get out by himself, he stole the car of one of the officers and fled to Jerusalem. Afterward he moved to A-Ram. Every night he sleeps in a different place, a friend's truck or a building site, or an abandoned shop. Recently he has found that A-Ram is no longer safe for him either.
At the beginning of the week, two Palestinians approached him and asked him to help them push their stalled car, about 200 meters past the A-Ram roadblock. Mabruchi followed them to the car, whose driver was in it, and to his surprise the car started up immediately. One of the men tried to push him into the vehicle, saying "come with us, don't be afraid, nothing will happen to you".
Fortunately for Mabruchi, a border police jeep approached and the three men fled. Since then he continues to get threats on his mobile telephone. "We know where you are hiding, we'll chop your head off when you sleep", Tanzim men from Nablus threaten.
Over the past months Mabruchi has tried to get a permit to stay in Israel so that he can live with his wife. But his requests are rejected repeatedly. "I know I have a criminal record, but you can't judge a man twice for what he has done", he says.
"I made mistakes as a child, now I am a new man. I want to live. I want to be with my wife", he says. In the PA, he says, he has a choice - either to be shot in the head or to be forced to become a suicide bomber. In Israel, he hopes, a better future awaits him.