A Palestinian grandmother has finally been able to visit her father’s grave, after battling Israeli authorities for permission to do so over two decades.
The grave of Salwa Salem Copty’s father is located inside an Israeli military base near Nazareth, which was built on the ruins of Ma’alul, one of hundreds of Palestinian villages destroyed during the Nakba.
After legal rights centre Adalah petitioned the Supreme Court, Copty was given permission to visit the grave, and finally did so – for the very first time – on 14 August.
The special day was the culmination of a 20-year legal battle, Adalah noted, as a result of Israeli military authorities’ refusal to permit Copty to visit.
Copty, 72-years-old, never met her father, who was killed by Israeli forces in 1948 during the Nakba. After Israeli forces occupied her family’s village, it was levelled, and a base built on the ruins.
The visit was made possible after Adalah filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of Copty and Subhi Mansour, her 93-year-old uncle and the only living person “who could identify the location of Copty’s father’s grave”, demanding that the Israeli military allow them to the cemetery.
“About a week before the scheduled Supreme Court hearing on the case, Israeli military authorities decided they would allow Salwa, Subhi, and two other people up to three visits a year to the cemetery,” Adalah explained.
On 14 August, Salwa, her uncle, and two additional family members entered the Israeli military base. Adalah staff, dozens of friends and family members, former Ma’alul residents and their descendants, and members of the media, accompanied them as far as the base’s main gate.
Subhi Mansour “successfully located the grave’s location and they were able to spend about an hour inside the base,” Adalah reported.