Tag Archives: Palestine
A state of estrangement stole my heart and found its way through my breaths. I could not describe it. There, between the bricks of isolation and the bars of prison, pathways are stretching open, and malaise takes over my soul.
Wounds presumably hurt, every time memories knock my mind. I wish I could travel to the world where my beloveds live. Their pictures had always jumped up to both my eyes and my mind. I used to recline in my bed, surrounded by endless darkness, grasping their pictures. I always smelled them. I cried. That is the picture of my youngest son. I was teasing him. He was only a month old the day I was held captive. And that one is Sojoud. She is more like a young woman now, even though I could not keep up with her energetic life — the life which was full of hope and pain.
How many times did I disperse my dreams over their bodies? Never had I imagined myself parting from them. Twelve years of prison, however, count! I used to start off my mornings while looking at their pictures. It was a sense of nostalgia. At nights, I used to spend my time looking at them, smiling. I had always wondered whether they got used to life without me. Am I now merely a number, which is shadowed by a life sentence? Questions have always pinched my thoughts. I could not have answers though. And I could do nothing but pray to Allah to break my fetters.
I was imprisoned by both memories and wishes. I used to relax after the Maghreb prayer, meditate and pray to Allah to make my dreams come true. Once a fuss was heard! We all rushed to one another. We investigated about the fuss nearby. And then, we learned that five and a half years of crazy waiting were yet to end. And many prisoners were about to join the world of the living. We waited for hours. They were like ages. Then the news was confirmed; a swap deal was approved. Eventually.
Smiles were drawn all over our faces; we laughed; we hugged each other; we cried; we were re-born. Few days later, names of the freed were leaked. What a moment! One prisoner could fly because of happiness, while his fellow prisoners were crying. We were like strangers. We imagined ourselves out, hugging people with no old photos or worn-out letters in our hands —people who had long been memories for us.
The day my life changed started off with a heavy dawn. I could not handle it. The images of unification had filled myself to the fullest over the past 12 years. We were transferred to the buses at the end of last bus station. We were thrilled. Or better overwhelmed. The taste of pleasure was odd that time, even though we had shed tears of farewell. We cried for our fellow prisoners, whom we left behind in prisons. We reached Ofer Jail. I sighed, as we could smell the scent of Ramallah and the odor of thyme. I exhaled, since I could glance the shadows of far-off Ramallah mountains. Our glimpses slipped through the narrow, steal windows.
Time had come. I cannot describe the moment shackles were taken off my hands. I stepped a bit forward. I stopped. Then I made more steps forward toward a life, away from the narrowness of the prison room and the toughness of the steal bed. No more numbers. No more transfers. I could not believe that my body was embracing freedom. Light lit every cell of my body. I stood still, wondering. All the way to Al Bira, I thought it was a dream. My heart beat faster. My nerves were frozen. Waiting worried me.
The landmarks changed. Trees numbered more. Numbers of lights mounted downtown. I could not stare at them; my soul and my eyes were attached to five faces I felt eager to have a glance of. I was lifted up to shoulders. Women were ululating, and I was looking for my children amongst the faces. I was scared that I would not be able to recognise their gestures. I let my heart search for them, instead. Suddenly, a mature girl surged to my chest. She was as tall as I. Tears tiptoed to the edge of her eyes, and then burst to her reddish cheeks. I did not need to look at her face to check her identity. My heart told me it was my daughter Sojoud. I stretched my arms wide-open, and I shed tears of happiness. I could not lisp a word. I waited so long. Very long. Truly long. I clutched her hands tightly, as if I was anxious about farewell again!
Bassam Al Natsha, Palestine
Narrow is the prison hole. Stubborn is the prison wall. I was contemplating the absurd. I imagined fleeting summer clouds and a sunshine descending a slope softly and touching the ground. I twinkled. The image grew distinct. A small hole bigger than my palm or a bit less! Barbed wires suffocated the light of the sun, and they turned the sky into a chess board.
Sickness made vision dizzy and bleak. Everything becomes dark in prison. Anything else would look prosperous outside prison, no matter how bad it is. I had a lack of eyesight. My heart was telling me, and I imagined scenes I had always been keen to see – the grapes, the cherry blossoms, and the stolen coast. We used to look at the stolen, remote coast, and monitor it from the Hebrew Heights, when we were children. It was glittering. Then we would disseminate our wishes. Sometimes we were shouting out loud at the sky, saying “we will return”.
My health has deteriorated since I was locked up behind bars nine years ago. I got closer to my God and Creator. I used to pray Him at night while shedding tears on my cheeks. If I had not done so, I would have lost my mind. Pain invaded my eyes the moment I was first interrogated. Soreness expectorated poison on the edges of my eyes. And I was almost blinded. Jailors made the worse worst. They cared not for my calamity.
I once woke up in a very summer-like early morning. My tummy was aching. It was killing. I assumed it was cold or rotten food. I tried hard to get up off my bed. I could not. My belly button was bleeding. It was leaking, actually. Blood stained my shirt. Pain was so acute that I believed I was dying. I writhed in agony. My fellow prisoners could do nothing but watch. One of them screamed for help, and another knocked on the door. Jailors ignored my squeals for hours. Then they took me to a nearby clinic and gave me painkillers only!
Pain subsided a bit but never gone. Pain was a jailor of different kind. It was lurking. And waiting. Then it was attacking. It came back again but this time with more soreness. I could not bear it. I screamed by the door, ” Save me. I am dying”. Hours later, one of the jailors responded to my wails. He negotiated with my fellow prisoners. Time passed along. Then he agreed on transferring me to Beersheba Hospital. I was diagnosed as having a tumor near my belly button. I was informed that I had to undergo an urgent surgery.
“Urgent” means extortion and procrastination when it comes to the Israeli occupation. Jailors were giving desolate smiles at my face. I suffered acute pain for some weeks. I was like a slaughtered pig, and the Israeli authorities shrugged me off. I was steps away from death. Then a date was fixed to operate on me. I feared the consequences. They tied me up, and drove me to the so-called hospital. I waited three hours to undergo the surgery. Every cell of my body was groaning. I tried to hang in, and I convinced myself that pain will be gone in the wake of the surgery.
Jailors, however, sent me back to my cell in prison without operating on me. They did not care about me, as if I am an inanimate object, immobile and devoid of emotions. Days later, they fixed another date for my operation. Hope resurrected my spirit again. They fastened me tightly and surrounded my limbs. I did give them a damn this time. “Pain is over soon, my tummy!” I smiled. This bitter journey is ending soon. My mind was manacled to the days after the surgery. They must be days of comfort.
The surgery was postponed! I lost my temper. I was forced back to my cell, shackled and broken. Pain looked endless. It haunted me. Few days later, another day for a surgery was fixed. They promised “it won’t be postponed this time.” I felt happy, even though they are not trustworthy. Pain had turned into a rapacious monster I had to defeat. They chained me for the third time. At dawn, I arrived in the same hospital. I waited. I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Nine hours of waiting looked similar to nine years of prison. They were filled with repression, oppression, growing pain and bitter patience.
I was pushed into the surgery room. Everything inside looked strange. It was not an operation room, actually. The doctor said, “There is another patient waiting for me now. Take him back to his prison!” I swore I will not come back to their dead hospital, even if I was dying. I kept bleeding. I was dying. I plead to God. Alone.
Firas Abu Shekhaidem, Palestine
Palestinians in Israeli prisons are grievously abused. Conditions resemble gulag hell. Treatment is deplorable. Fundamental human rights are violated.
“To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics. Medical personnel of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties.”
“Every place of internment shall have an adequate infirmary, under the direction of a qualified doctor, where internees may have the attention they require, as well as an appropriate diet. Isolation wards shall be set aside for cases of contagious or mental diseases.”
“Medical inspections of internees shall be made at least once a month. Their purpose shall be, in particular, to supervise the general state of health, nutrition and cleanliness of internees, and to detect contagious diseases, especially tuberculosis, malaria, and venereal diseases. Such inspections shall include, in particular, the checking of weight of each internee and, at least once a year, radioscopic examination.”
Oh children of Palestine,
to whom do you call?
Your friends in the West are sleeping,
your brothers in the East are dead!
Between Gaza and Ramallah
between most Arab countries
between blood brothers
there is continuous war
cold and hot
indicative of the untruth of our motto,
“the unity of the Arab nation”!
We have put our people under siege to die
we abandoned the truth and history
we gave up entirely on the cause
we have come to speak with the tongues of others
we blame and accuse the victims
we accuse the children of Gaza of terrorism
we permitted their blood to be spilled by invaders
we left them to the mercy of
smart bombs, white phosphorus
and Apache helicopters!
Oh children of Palestine,
due to you is my greeting of respect and honor
You die only once with dignity
while we die every day––rather every minute––
consumed in the flames of humiliation and disgrace!
Where are the Muslim leaders?
They must be coming
but not to aid their children
rather they are coming to the Western capitals
to congratulate the conjurer
and to declare their own innocence
from their peoples’ demonstrations!
Oh children of Gaza, your severed limbs in the streets
and your blood in the alleys
are testimony to the truthfulness of
the callers for democracy
You will prove the success of their plan
for the new Middle East:
to spread peace
and establish the Palestinian state!
-Yassin Aref, 2009
(Contribute to supporting Imam Yassin’s Family)
Yassin Muhiddin Aref #12778-052 USP Marion U.S. Penitentiary PO Box 1000 Marion, IL 62959 USA
This video, filmed by international activists in Gaza, is an interview with recently-released Palestinian political prisoner Dr. Abdul-Aziz Omar, who also recently traveled to South Africa to inform the world about the conditions, lives and struggles of Palestinian political prisoners. This video is released for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, April 17, 2012.
Palestinian former political prisoner, Dr. Abdul-Aziz Omar, from Jerusalem but deported/banished to Gaza in the recent prisoner exchange in October 2011, shared his thoughts with international activists in Gaza on the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. These videos are suitable for screening, web distribution and more. Dr. Omar discusses his experience with arrest, torture, solitary confinement, interrogation, medical abuse, and calls for action.
In 2007, staff of the Ktziot Prison (located in the Negev desert) brought Israeli military troops into the prison to conduct a night raid on prisoners for the purposes of “building morale”. What resulted after the callously disposed military aggression on unarmed and noncombatitive prisoners, was the fatal shooting of Mohammed Ashkar and the injury of over 250 other prisoners by the use of unknown ammunition. While his parents looked on, Mohammed died later that night while chained to a hospital bed.
حبيبتي لمار، سامحيني لأن الاحتلال حرمني منك، وحرمني من بهجتي بولادة طفلتي الأولى التي كم تمنيت من الله أن أراها وأقبلها وأفرح بها، لا ذنب لك، لكن هذا قدرنا نحن الشعب الفلسطيني أن تسلب حياتنا وحياة أطفالنا، أن يبعثر شملنا وينغص عيشنا، فكل شيء لا يكتمل في حياتنا بسبب هذا المحتل الظالم الذي يتربص بنا ويحول حياتنا إلى غربة وملاحقة وعذاب رغم حرماني من احتضانك وسماع صوتك، ورؤيتك تكبرين وتتحركين في أرجاء البيت وفي السرير، ورغم حرماني من أن أمارس دور الإنسان الأب مع طفلتي فإن وجودك أعطاني كل القوة والأمل، وعندما رأيتك مع أمك في خيمة الاعتصام، ، هادئة تنظرين بدهشة إلى الناس، كأنك تفتشين عن أبيك، تنظرين إلى صوري المعلقة في الخيمة تسألين بصمت لماذا لا يعود أبي، شعرت أنك معي، وفي وجداني وعقلي، وأنك جزء من دقات قلبي وصمودي ودمي الذي يسير في جسمي، تفتحين أمامي كل الأبواب، وتفرشين حولي سماءا صافية وتطلقين صوتك الطفولي حرا في هذا الصمت الطويل”.
حبيبتي لمار : اعلم انه لا ذنب لك ولا تفهمين لماذا يخوض والدك معركته في إضراب مفتوح عن الطعام منذ 75 يوما، ولأنك عندما تكبرين ستفهمين أن معركة الحرية هي معركة العودة إليك ، ومن أجل أن لا أبعد عنك بعد ذلك أو أحرم من ابتسامتك ورؤيتك، وحتى لا يعود المحتلون مرة أخرى ليخطفوني منك.
عندما تكبرين ستفهمين كيف وقع الظلم على أبيك وعلى الآلاف من أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني الذين زجهم المحتل في المعسكرات والزنازين وحطم حياتهم ومستقبلهم وهم لا ذنب لهم سوى أنهم يريدون الحرية والكرامة والاستقلال، وستعرفين أن والدك لا يقبل الظلم والخضوع، ولا يقبل الاهانة والمساومة ، وأنه يخوض إضرابا عن الطعام احتجاجا على الدولة العبرية التي تريد أن تحولنا إلى عبيد وأذلاء بلا حقوق، ولا كرامة وطنية.
حبيبتي لمار، ارفعي رأسك دائما وافتخري بوالدك، واشكري كل من وقف معي، وساند الأسرى في خطوتهم النضالية، ولا تخافي ولا تجزعي فالله دائما معنا، والله لا يخذل المؤمنين والصابرين، فنحن أصحاب حق، والحق سوف ينتصر على الظالمين والمجرمين.
حبيبتي لمار: سيأتي ذلك اليوم، وأعوضك عن كل شيء، وسأسرد لك الحكاية كلها، وستكون أيامك القادمة أحلى وأجمل، فانطلقي في أيامك والبسي أجمل الثياب، واركضي ثم اركضي في حدائق عمرك المديد، إلى الأمام والى الأمام فليس وراءك إلا الوراء، وهذا صوتك اسمعه دائما نشيدا للحياة.
My Beloved Lamar, forgive me because the occupation took me away from you, and took away from me the pleasure of witnessing my firstborn child that I have always prayed to Allah to see, to kiss, to be happy with. It is not your fault; this is our destiny as Palestinian people to have our lives and the lives of our children taken away from us, to be apart from each other and to have a miserable life. Nothing is complete in our lives because of this unjust occupation that is lurking on every corner of our lives turning it into eeriness, a continuous pursuit and torture.
Despite the fact that I was deprived from holding you and hearing your voice, from watching you grow up and move around in the house and in your bed, and that I was deprived of my role as a human and a father with my daughter, your existence has given me all the power and hope, and when I saw your picture with your mother in the sit-in tent, you were so calm staring in wonder at people, as if you were looking for your father, looking at my pictures that are hung inside the tent asking in silence why is my father not coming back. I felt that you are with me, in my sentiment and inside my mind, as if you are a part of my heartbeats, steadfast and the blood that flows in my veins, opening all doors for me spreading clear skies around me, and unleashing your free childish voice after this long silence.
Lamar my love: I know that you are not to be blamed and that you don’t yet understand why your father is going through this battle of hunger strike for the seventy-fifth day, but when you grow up you will understand that the battle of freedom is the battle of going back to you, so that I can never be taken away from you again or to be deprived of your smile or seeing you, so that the occupier will never kidnap me again from you.
When you grow up you will understand how injustice was brought upon your father and upon thousands of Palestinians whom the occupation has put in prisons and jail cells, shattering their lives and future for no reason other then their pursuit of freedom, dignity and independence. You will know that your father did not tolerate injustice and submission, and that he would never accept insult and compromise, and that he is going through a hunger strike to protest against the Jewish state that wants to turn us into humiliated slaves without any rights or patriotic dignity.
My beloved Lamar keep your head up always and be proud of your father, and thank everyone who supported me, who supported the prisoners in their struggle, and don’t be afraid for Allah is with us always, and Allah never lets down people who have faith and patience. We are righteous, and right will always prevail against injustice and wrong doers.
Lamar my love: that day will come, and I will make it up to you for everything, and tell you the whole story, and your days that will follow will be more beautiful, so let your days pass now and wear your prettiest clothes, run and then run again in the gardens of your long life, go forward and forward for nothing is behind you but the past, and this is your voice I hear all the time as a melody of freedom.