Bilal Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 35, a Palestinian prisoner from Jerusalem, entered his 12th year in occupation prisons on August 8, 2013. He was arrested on August 8, 2001 and sentenced to 18 years in Israeli prisons, on charges of belonging to the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Odeh is currently held in Nafha prison, where he has participated in all collective hunger strikes and events of struggle in the occupation prisons. He received his master’s degree in prison despite the many obstacles to prisoners pursuing their education.
Before his arrest, he was long involved in challenging the occupation, and comes from a family with a long lineage of struggle in the Palestinian movement.
Bilal engaged in a lengthy battle to defend his home from Israeli policies of land confiscation and home demolitions in Jerusalem against Palestinians. In one example, his family was prohibited from building a second story on their home in Jerusalem, denied permits for years by the Israeli occupation. Bilal set about building a second story nonetheless, with materials repeatedly confiscated and concrete additions removed by the occupation authorities. He then proceeded to construct a large wooden and canvas “tent” on the roof of his family home, serving as a “second story.” After a series of battles over the tent, it stood for five years before the family won their permit to build.
Speaking of this event, he said, “I wanted to build the tent, engage in this struggle, because then the conflict with the occupation is that we want to build, and they want to stop us from building. If we don’t build – then the struggle will be over them demolishing our homes.”