Baher Muhammed Gahar-Fur, 35, arrived in Israel a month ago, after a long and arduous journey from her home in Kurdistan.
Though her great-grandparents immigrated to Israel decades ago, Gahar-Fur didn’t always know she was Jewish. In fact, growing up in the city of Sulaymaniyah, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Gahar-Fur only learned her true identity about ten years ago. “I grew up in a standard Muslim home,” she said.
Gahar-Fur was married to a Muslim man at the age of 15, and her four children are currently aged 16, 15, 11 and 5.
At the beginning, things went well. But when her husband started showing extremist leanings, and pressured her to participate in his new interests, things started to change. Her unwillingness to go along with his new direction raised her husband’s ire.
Three months ago, the violence peaked. After a long night, filled with horrendous violence, her husband announced that he was selling her for $2,200. She would now belong to the ISIS fighters who were making their way through the village.
At that point, Gahar-Fur made the decision that changed her life. After her husband left for work, she packed a suitcase and left. She did not – could not – take her children with her. Though Turkey does not allow entry to citizens of Kurdistan, Gahar-Fur managed to smuggle herself in, after joining a group of illegal Syrian refugees.
MIraculously, shortly after she arrived in Turkey, she met Domenz, an Israeli businessman, who heard her story and reached out to help. Domenz had been born in Turkey and is thought to have connections in the Turkish government. Domenz provided Gahar-Fur with a place to live, and notified the Israeli government of the story.
To his credit, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), instructed that Gahar-Fur be brought to Israel immediately. Deri asked to hear the entire story from Gahar-Fur herself and the meeting took place on Thursday.
Gahar-Fur is currently living in the cooperative community of Patish, in the south of Israel, where she has extended family. The Interior Ministry is currently checking her roots and papers, for the purpose of issuing her permanent residency and an Israeli identity card. Deri also mentioned that he would work to locate all members of Gahar-Fur’s extended family.
“This is literally about saving lives,” Deri said. “It is the [halakha of] redemption of captives in a true and absolute sense.”
Wrapping herself in an Israeli flag, Gahar-Fur said, “I love Israel, and want to be reunited with my family.”