Would-be bomber turned peace activist barred from Israel premiere
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Would-be bomber turned peace activist barred from Israel premiere

Shin Bet prevents Shifa al-Qudsi of the Combatants for Peace movement from attending screening of documentary in which she stars

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Shifa al-Qudsi. (courtesy)
Shifa al-Qudsi. (courtesy)

A Palestinian peace activist who was once trained to be a suicide bomber was denied entry into Israel Thursday to attend the premiere of a documentary in which she stars.

Shifa al-Qudsi, a resident of the West Bank city of Tulkarem and member of the Israeli-Palestinian group Combatants for Peace (CFP), was blocked from entering Israel Thursday by security forces, a statement from the group said.

The organization had asked the Shin Bet security service to allow al-Qudsi to attend the screening of a new documentary “Disturbing the Peace,” in which she plays a key role, at the Jerusalem Film Festival Thursday afternoon.

A spokesperson for CFP told The Times of Israel the security agency rejected al-Qudsi’s request. The Israeli body responsible for issuing entry permits to Palestinians did not respond to an inquiry as to why al-Qudsi was rejected.

“Israel’s limiting visa policy for peace movements consistently encumbers the Palestinian voice calling for the end of the conflict from being conveyed to the Israeli public,” CFP leaders Udi Gur and Mohamad Awedah said in a statement. “Combatants for Peace Palestinian members’ voices are critical and non-violent. The Israeli public deserves to hear that change is possible, as Shifa’s process illustrates, and the attempt to silence her is meant to tear the two nations apart and bring despair — but we believe there is another path, the path of hope.”

Palestinians and Israelis attend a joint ceremony for families of Israeli and Palestinian victims on Memorial Day organized by "Combatants for Peace" and the "Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace" in Tel Aviv, April 21, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Palestinians and Israelis attend a joint ceremony for families of Israeli and Palestinian victims on Memorial Day organized by “Combatants for Peace” and the “Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace” in Tel Aviv, April 21, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

In 2002, Qudsi was recruited for a suicide bombing in a supermarket in the coastal city of Netanya. Then 24 years old and a beauty technician in Tulkarem, Qudsi planned to blow herself up with 33 pounds of explosives strapped to her body under a maternity dress. Before she could carry out the attack, Israeli intelligence agents were tipped off and she was arrested and later convicted. She served a six-year sentence in Israeli prison.

Palestinians and Israelis attend a joint ceremony for families of Israeli and Palestinian victims on Memorial Day, organized by "Combatants for Peace" and the "Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace" in Tel Aviv, April 21, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Palestinians and Israelis attend a joint ceremony for families of Israeli and Palestinian victims on Memorial Day, organized by “Combatants for Peace” and the “Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace” in Tel Aviv, April 21, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

While in jail, according to a statement from CFP — a group of Israeli veterans and former Palestinian terrorists — Qudsi realized that many Israelis wanted peace and joined the activist group after her release. She still lives in Tulkarem.

The documentary in which Qudsi stars follows the transformation of Israelis and Palestinians who participated in the conflict into peace activists for the Combatants for Peace movement, which seeks to end the violence between both sides.

Illustrative photo of Tulkarem (screen capture: YouTube)
Illustrative photo of Tulkarem (screen capture: YouTube)

On July 21, the film will also be screened on the security barrier near Beit Jala, which is located near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

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