Palestinian women political prisoners in Israeli jails: Resources and information

As of 18 January 2015, there are 22 Palestinian women being held as political prisoners in Israeli jails, as reported by Palestinian Prisoners’ Society. They are from the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Palestinians from occupied Palestine ’48 (citizens of Israel.) Below is the full list at the present time of Palestinian women political prisoners.

free-prisonersThere is a long history of the imprisonment and resistance of Palestinian women from the earliest days of Palestinian organizing and resistance. The film “Women in Struggle” by director Buthaina Canaan Khoury and “Une Vie Suspendue,” a photographic exhibition by Algerian-Belgian photographer Asmaa Seba are two of the artistic projects based on expressing the stories of Palestinian women political prisoners over the years.

Nahla Abdo, Arab feminist scholar, has released a new book, Captive Revolution, on the struggles of Palestinian women political prisoners in Israeli jails. Read an article by Abdo here.

Four of the women being held at HaSharon prison, are minors under the age of 18:
Dima Sawahreh, Hala Musallam, Malaak al-Khatib and Yathreb Rayyan. Palestinian women political prisoners are generally held at HaSharon prison, where Palestinian prisoners have repeatedly reported mistreatment.

Addameer reported that “they are held in overcrowded cells, with lack of access to basic human needs such as hygiene, nutritious food and proper clothing and blankets. Furthermore, female prisoners are subjected to harsh conditions during their interrogation, including beatings, insults, threats, sexual harassment and humiliation by Israeli interrogators. Often they must undergo degrading and intrusive body searches during transfers to court hearings and sometimes during the middle of the night as a punitive measure.”

G4S, a British-Danish security company – the largest in the world – and the target of a massive international boycott campaign for its involvement in human rights violations, provides the security system at HaSharon prison.

Ihsan Dababseh with a representative of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (left)

Four are from Hebron:
1. Ihsan Dababseh, 28, a former Palestinian prisoner who was arrested on 15 October after she refused to report for interrogation. Her computer was seized.

During her prior arrest from 2007 to 2009, the Israeli occupation soldiers who had arrested and blindfolded her made this video of themselves dancing around her as she was blindfolded and against the wall:

Nahil Abu Aisha

2. Nahil Abu Aisha, 33, arrested in March 2013 in a raid on her home in Hebron. She was sentenced on 12 November to a 33-month sentence after her trial had been postponed more than seven times by the military courts. She has been chained hand and foot during family visits and has been arrested on multiple occasions. She works in Qabatiya School in Tal Rumeida area near Ibrahimi Mosque and has been arrested on multiple occasions for her activism to protect the Old City and Ibrahimi Mosque from settler attacks.

3. Hala Musallam, 17, from Al-Arroub refugee camp near Hebron, was arrested on 28 November because she refused to be searched at a military checkpoint set up in Hebron’s Old City. When she was forcibly searched after being threatened with guns, she was accused of possessing a small knife. It should be noted that illegal Israeli settlers regularly walk around Hebron, where they have occupied and expelled Palestinians, carrying large guns and other weapons.

4. Rawan Samhan, 20, from ad-Dhariya, southwest of Hebron, was arrested on 9 December while visiting her brother Abdullah in Israeli prisons.

Three are from Nablus:

5. Wiam Aseeda, 22, a student from Tel village near Nablus, was beaten to the ground by Israeli soldiers at Zaatara checkpoint ouside Nablus on 8 December 2013, then handcuffed and taken away in a police car. She is now held in HaSharon prison.

6. Samaher Suleiman Othman Zein el-Deen, 34, was arrested on 28 May 2014 in her home in Majdal Bani Fadel, a village south of Nablus, after an early-morning invasion by Israeli occupation forces. Her husband, Nader Zein el-Deen, is also held in Israeli jails and was arrested two months before Samaher. She is the mother of six children. She has not been permitted to see her husband since her arrest.

7. Filastin Najm, 28, from Nablus, was arrested on 27 November 2013. A former prisoner who served 16 months in Israeli prisons, she was again arrested by Israeli occupation soldiers at a checkpoint under charges of possessing a small knife.

Five are from Ramallah:

8. Fidaa Suleiman, 22, was arrested on 28 August 2014 at Modiin military checkpoit west of Ramallah; two of her brothers, Khader and Ahmad Suleiman, are political prisoners in Israeli jails.

Bushra-Tawil-620x4009. Bushra al-Tawil, 21, is a Palestinian journalist and prisoners’ rights advocate. A former prisoner released in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange in 2011, her former sentence was reimposed upon her on 8 December on the basis of secret evidence, with the Israeli military court stating she is a security threat. She is the spokesperson of Aneen Al-Qaid Media Network; her father, Jamal al-Tawil is also a political prisoner. He is the former mayor of El-Bireh. There is an international campaign protesting her imprisonment.

lena10. Lina Khattab, 18, is a first-year media student at Bir Zeit University and a folkloric dancer with the renowned El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe. She was arrested on 13 December at a march by Bir Zeit students in Beitunia near Ofer prison, protesting the imprisonment of Palestinian political prisoners. Click here to take action on Lina’s case.

11. Thuriyya Taha, 21, is a student in media and technology at Al-Quds Open University. From Beit Ilu in Ramallah area, she was arrested on 26 July 2014 in the Old City of Jerusalem; she has not been sentenced.

12. Palestinian girl, Malaak Ali al-Khatib, 14, was arrested on 31 December near her school in Bittin village, near Ramallah. Her detention was extended on Monday, 5 January for one week, until Sunday, 11 January, under the pretext of requiring a “conduct report” on the girl before releasing her. The 14-year-old girl is accused of “throwing stones” at Israeli occupation soldiers at the settler bypass road closed to Palestinians near her school.

Three are from East Jerusalem:

shireenissawi13. Shireen Issawi, 32, is a Palestinian lawyer who has been imprisoned since 6 March 2014, along with her brother Medhat. Her other brother, Samer Issawi, is also imprisoned and was previously freed due to a 260+ day hunger strike. Shireen and Medhat are being accused of providing extra funds to imprisoned Palestinians to spend at the canteen (prison commissary) from their friends and supporters. There is an international campaign for the release of Shireen, who was awarded the Al-Karama Human Rights Award in Geneva, Switzerland on 10 December.

dima-sawahreh14. Dima Sawahreh, 16, is an 11th-grader from Jabal Mukabber neighbourhood in Jerusalem, Dima was imprisoned on 3 January and sentenced to 18 months in Israeli prisons. She was 15 when arrested and placed in a “community home” in Akka for six months due to her young age. She was isolated in solitary confinement in Ramleh prison for 19 days. Her brother died during her confinement and she was not permitted to make even a telephone call to her family during that time.

yathreb-rayyan15. Yathreb Rayyan, 16, was arrested on 4 December at Qalandiya checkpoint. From Beit Duqqu village north of Jerusalem, she walked into a bus lane at the checkpoint and was over 30 meters from the checkpoint when soldiers fired tear gas at her and a large group of soldiers forced her to the ground. Israeli reports stated that she was “attempting to stab a soldier” but the video below of her being attacked and arrested by soldiers shows clearly how far she was. (Please note, in some places her age has been reported as 15 or even 14.)

Three are from Jenin:

mona-kaadan16. Mona Qa’adan, 42, has been imprisoned by Israel since 23 November 2012. Her trial has never been completed and court hearings have been postponed or extended over 20 times. She has been denied all family visits since her arrest. This is her third arrest and imprisonment, and the longest time that she has spent in detained. She is engaged to fellow political prisoner Ibrahim Eghbariyya, and is not allowed to see him.

17. Yasmin Shaaban, 32, of Jenin, was arrested on 3 November; her arrest and that of four men from a village near Tulkarem is being highly touted by the Israeli secret services. She and four others are being accused of a “conspiracy” to engage in armed operations and with membership in Palestinian political parties, labelled “illegal organizations.”

18. Fidaa al-Shaibani, 36, is the wife of Palestinian poliical prisoner Ahmad al-Shaibani, who has been imprisoned since 2003. She is a mother of two, from Arabeh, Jenin district, and was arrested at her house on 11 May 2014. She was brought to Kishon Detention Center (Jalame) where she underwent interrogation during a period of three weeks. On 2 June 2014 she was transferred to Hasharon Prison.

Two are from Tulkarem:

dunia-waked19. Dunia Waked, 36, from Tulkarem refugee camp, was arrested from her home in a night-time raid by Israeli occupation forces on 27 May 2013. She was denied lawyer visits until 16 June 2013. She is engaged to Palestinian political prisoner Mohammed Waked, who has served 11 years of a 29 year sentence. She has been sentenced to 42 months in prison, accused of attempting to provide imprisoned Palestinians additional funds in their canteen accounts on behalf of their political organization, Hamas. The Palestine Prisoners Center for Studies denounced the sentence as arbitrary and based on little evidence. She has developed diabetes only since her arrest and suffers from asthma.

20. Asmaa Balhawi of Tulkarem city was arrested on 14 December 2014 as she visited her imprisoned husband in an Israeli jail.

One is from Occupied Palestine ’48, and the longest-serving woman prisoner:

lina_jarbouni21. Lina Jarbouni, 40, from Akka, is a Palestinian citizen of Israel who worked in sewing workshops and was arrested in 2002. She is ill and suffers from a number of diseases. Lina is often the spokesperson and representative of women prisoners in HaSharon; sentenced to 17 years, she has five years remaining in her sentence. She received this lengthy sentence for “aiding the enemy” – Palestinian resistance.

She has been subjected to medical neglect and mistreatment and was denied essential surgery until women prisoners launched a hunger strike for her medical treatment. She has applied for compassionate release due to her medical situation, which has been denied. In 2011, when the other women Palestinian political prisoners were released in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange, the Israeli state refused to release her, saying that as an Israeli citizen, she wss not eligible to be released in the exchange.

And one is from Bethlehem:

amal-taqatqa22. Amal Taqatqa, 23, of Beit Fajjar near Bethlehem, was shot and arrested on 1 December near Gush Etzion illegal settlement south of Bethlehem after a settler approached Israeli occupation soldiers in the area and accused her of attempting to stab him. Despite sensationalistic media reporting, the settler in question was in fact uninjured and required no medical treatment, and Amal denies even touching the settler. She was shot with live ammunition and seriously injured and hospitalized. She was charged on 19 December with “attempted murder” despite the clear lack of evidence. Amal’s family was harrassed, interrogated and abused by Israeli soldiers following her shooting, with testimony provided to Al-Haq.



Released in 2015:

23. Rasmiya Balawna, 54, from Tulkarem refugee camp, was arrested on 24 February after an Israeli military dawn raid on her home. The Israeli forces confiscated 24,000 NIS (approximately $6120 USD) from her home when she was arrested, which was then imposed on her as a fine along with a 12-month sentence on 19 September. Rasmiya is the mother of Shadi Balawna, a Palestinian former prisoner who is exiled to Gaza after his release from Israeli prisons in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange in 2011. She was accused of “contacting and transferring funds to hostile parties;” the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center denounced the sentence as “arbitrary, groundless and issued under a flimsy pretext.” Rasmiya Balawna was released on 14 January 2015.