‘Survived’: Palestinians on Prisoner’s Day | Human Rights News

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Mansour al-Shahatit did not recognize his mother and brothers after being released from Israeli prisons 17 years later.

After years of torture and solitary confinement in Israeli prisons, he lost his memory and was released in April.

His family broke down in tears when they were released from Yeota, near Hebron, and they witnessed his physical and mental condition.

“Mansour was in very good condition at the time of his arrest and I fully blame the Israeli occupation for his health and mental deterioration,” said his mother, Faiza al-Shahatit,.

He mentioned that his son had spent the last two and a half years in solitary confinement.

Al-Shahatit said, “Mansour was sentenced twice – he was sentenced to 1 year in prison for his mental and emotional deterioration and his future was damaged.”

The struggle for freedom

Palestinians celebrate April 17 every year Palestinian Prisoner of War Day Expressing their loyalty to the prisoners for violating the Israeli occupation and as a reminder to the international community of their legitimate struggle for freedom.

Israel has detained about 4,500 Palestinians in its prisons, including 41 women and 140 children under the age of 18. Since the beginning of 2021, Israeli authorities have arrested about 1,400 Palestinians.

About 550 prisoners are suffering from various diseases and need intensive care and health care. At least 10 detainees are suffering from various degrees of cancer, including Fouad al-Shobaki, 72, the oldest of the detainees. So far, 337 Palestinian prisoners have been infected with the virus.

Some Palestinians have spent 44 years in captivity and 543 have been sentenced to life in prison.

On Thursday, supporters lit a “torch of freedom” for prisoners in front of the late president’s tomb Yasser Arafat Initiates the annual celebration at Ramallah.

“All Palestinians have the presence of prisoners in their lives and they deserve all the loyalty and uninterrupted work from us to release them and their families because they gave up many years of their youth for the liberation of Palestine,” said Sabri Sidam, a member of the Fatah Central Committee.

Khawla Tawil is the mother of a captive student who has spent the last six months in jail [Mohammed Najib/Al Jazeera]

‘Peer Support’

An example of a detainee is Shat Tavil, 21, a computer student at Bir Jet University in Al-Bireh, near Ramallah. On November 2, 2020, at midnight, Israeli security forces surrounded Tawil’s home and arrested him. His crime: Supporting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (FPLP).

Six months ago, she kept her laptop, as well as teddy bears of various sizes, colored pencils and notebooks, and Arabic books and her small library full of translator novels, so her bedroom was very nicely decorated.

Tawil spent most of his time prior to his arrest adapting to the online learning process imposed on nearby children and classmates by the Cavid-19 crisis.

“He was involved in government work and helped his colleagues in education. We miss him and hope he will be released soon.

Tawil is still subject to court sessions for his student activities and has not been able to visit his family due to coronavirus restrictions. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

Kadoura, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Club and a former detainee, told Faris Al Jazeera that the Israeli arrests were part of a systematic plan to weaken the Palestinian community to prevent occupation and create fear.

“Israel has arrested about ten million Palestinians It’s from possession 19 Bank said in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and no sun has risen since the beginning of the Israeli occupation, “Faris said.

Officials say Israeli security equipment aims to deter young Palestinians between the ages of 19 and 25 from engaging in their activities, officials said. The arrests were aimed at imposing additional fines ranging from 600 600- $ 70,000 on Israelis, including an estimated 9. 9.2 million in fines.

Kadoura Faris, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Club and a former detainee [Mohammed Nagib/Al Jazeera]

Systematic targets

In the case of some prisoners, the fighting continues from prison.

Marwan Barghothi, a Fatah party leader, is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for leading the second Palestinian intifada from 2000 to 2004. While in prison, he led an educational initiative for Palestinian prisoners.

“The most important battle in Marwan’s life is the fight for education, so he spends most of his time educating the rest of the prisoners,” his brother Muqbil, 55, told Al Jazeera.

“The whole family is suffering because of Marwan’s presence in jail. Our mother died and she did not say goodbye to him. Her two children are married and she has not shared their joy. He has four grandchildren whom he still sees. ”

Some Palestinian prisoners have been shortlisted by various parties for the May 22 assembly elections. Meanwhile, Marwan Barghothi plans to run in the July 31 presidential election.

“Representation of Palestinian prisoners through the list of candidates for the Palestinian Legislative Assembly reflects the interest of the Palestinian people as an integral part of these people enjoying the same citizenship – even if Israel seeks to neutralize them. Arrests do not preclude participation in political and national life, ”Faris said.

Another former prisoner, Rafat al-Qarawi, is celebrating his first Ramadan outside the 21-year prison after his release in March.

“At the age of twenty, the war was fought militarily through armed struggle. But now, at the age of 40, I need to fight through the upbringing and education of my children, ”he told Al Jazeera.

‘I wish them death’

Although Palestinians and a large part of the world consider Palestinian political prisoners to be “freedom fighters,” many Israelis have a different view.

“The Israeli people consider Palestinian security detainees terrorists who tried to kill Israelis and were arrested,” said Yoni Ben Menachem, an Israeli political analyst. “They do not support their release but rather they want to die in their prison and believe that they should be severely punished.”

He said the “planning and assassination” of Israelis in Palestinian prisons was a “barrier” to them.

Muqbil Barghoti mentioned, however, that his brother had nothing to do with the violence against the Israelis and was sentenced to life imprisonment regardless.

“Marwan is a freedom fighter and has not been convicted of murder, and his trial was more political than a military trial to criminalize the Palestinian people’s struggle against the occupation,” he said.

For many Palestinian prisoners and their families, the most important development is the election of US President Joe Biden, who is expected to try to start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Faris said the release of prisoners would be a key issue in resuming any talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

“The prisoner issue is an essential part of any future political process, and there can be no progress without progress on the release of prisoners,” he said.

Mukbil Barghothi is standing in front of a poster of his brother Marwan [Mohammed Najib/Al Jazeera]

Prisoner exchange?

An Israeli source told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity that the Israeli government had requested Egyptian intelligence a month ago to re-establish contact with Hamas to complete a prisoner exchange with Germany and Norway. Four Israelis have been held in Gaza in exchange for a majority of Palestinians.

Hamas has handed over a list of 400 life sentences to prisoners, among them top figures, the source said.

But for Israel’s far-right politicians, the release of prisoners marks a red line. “It would be impossible for an Israeli right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett, or Gideon Sar, to accept the release of Palestinian prisoners,” Ben Menachem said.

Another key development is the recent move by the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes in the occupied territories. Prison issues, including allegations of torture in Israeli jails, will remain at the top of the investigation.

Ramallah al-Qarawi is learning to reconcile life after more than 20 years in prison or on the run, despite the detention of Palestinians and the continuing uncertainty of a two-state solution.

He called on Palestinian leaders to protect the release of their captives in any way necessary.

“The land will remain but the lives of the prisoners and their families are gone,” he said.

“Through the political negotiations conducted by the PA – the prisoners do not think about the way to release them [Palestinian Authority] Or through an exchange agreement. All that is needed is their release. ”

Rafat al-Qarawi stood in front of his home after his release last month [Mohammed Najib/Al Jazeera]

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