Escalating number of Palestinian women prisoners: profiles and information


The largest number of Palestinian women political prisoners since the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange in 2011 is currently imprisoned in Israeli jails.  They are from the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Palestinians from occupied Palestine ’48 (citizens of Israel.)

Hasharon prison, which imprisons most women prisoners is now “overcrowded;” three Palestinian girls – Jihan Ereikat, Marah Bakri and Istabraq Nour – are now being held in Asqelan prison, which is primarily a men’s prison; some Palestinian boys are held there as well. They have demanded their immediate transfer to a women’s prison.

Six of the Palestinian women prisoners are injured by Israeli soldier and settler bullets: Shurouq Dwayyat, Hilweh Darwish Hamamreh, Israa Ja’abis, Marah Bakri, Istabraq Nour and Amal Taqatqa.

Two Palestinian women are being held under administrative detention, arbitrarily imprisoned without charge or trial. They are among over 400 administrative detainees, Palestinians imprisoned under secret evidence. Jurin Qadah from Ramallah and Asmaa Hamdan from Nazareth – a Palestinian citizen of Israel – are both held in administrative detention.

Khalida Jarrar, the imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarian, feminist, leftist and advocate for prisoners, had been held in administrative detention; an international outcry pushed her case to Israeli military courts (which are no more just than administrative detention) where she faces 12 purely political charges against her for speaking, writing, talking to the media and attending events. Jarrar’s case has been postponed repeatedly as the military prosecution fail to produce witnesses to support their charges.

There 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. Reham Alhelsi, a Palestinian writer, has written about the lives of Palestinian political prisoners: read her article at this link.

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.

It is also important in this context to note the case of Rasmea Odeh, former Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli jails and torture survivor, who is currently subject to persecution in the United States on the basis of her former imprisonment by the Israeli occupation regime.  She has been convicted of immigration violations and faces imprisonment and deportation; her case is currently on appeal.  Rasmea’s case is also that of a Palestinian women political prisoner, continuing to struggle for justice against oppression.

Profiles of Palestinian Women Prisoners:

Lina-Jarbouni1. Lina Jarbouni, 41, 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.  Click here to download Samidoun’s Lina Jarbouni poster.

mona-kaadan2. Mona Qa’adan, 43, was sentenced to 70 months (nearly six years) imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 NIS (approximately 7,500 USD), convicted of membership in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and running a women’s organization allegedly associated with the movement.

Qa’adan has been detained since November 13, 2012, and her trial was postponed repeatedly, over twenty times. She has been denied family visits continually since her arrest, for two and one-half years. Both her brother and her fiance are also held in Israeli prisons.


khalidafb3. Khalida Jarrar, 52, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for the Abu Ali Mustafa Bloc, a prominent leftist, feminist and advocate for Palestinian prisoners – a board member of Addameer – was arrested by the Israeli occupation military in her home on 2 April. This arrest came following her rejection – and defeat – of an attempt to forcibly displace her from her Ramallah home to Jericho by the Israeli military in August 2014.

Jarrar was initially held under administrative detention without charge or trial; following an international outcry, she was then charged in an Israeli military court with 12 charges, all of which are entirely political in nature and many of which directly pertain to her advocacy to free Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Her trial has been repeatedly delayed as the military prosecution have been unable to present witnesses speaking to the accusations against her. Click here to visit Samidoun’s Khalida Jarrar resource page, visit the Free Khalida Jarrar campaign, or download a poster for her case.

4. Hala Musallam Abu Sal, 18, from Al-Arroub refugee camp near Hebron, was arrested on 28 November 2014 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.

5. Maysoun Moussa, 19, a university student from Shawawra village near Bethlehem, was arrested on 30 June 2015 and accused of carrying out a resistance action against an occupation soldier at a checkpoint in Bethlehem. Maysoun’s wedding was coming up within two months and she had upcoming appointments to look at wedding dresses the day she was arrested. Her family has discussed the raid on their home and their experience of their home being ransacked .

6. Asmaa Hamdan, 19, is a Palestinian citizen of Israel who is being held under administrative detention without charge or trial for sending a text message to her family expressing her wish to struggle and die for Jerusalem and Palestine, saying “I want to defend Jerusalem. I prefer to stand beside my people.” She is the first Palestinian woman citizen of Israel in fifteen years to be placed under administrative detention .

7. Amal Saadeh, of Halhoul, was arrested on 18 November 2014, accused of attempting to smuggle a mobile phone to her imprisoned brother Mohammed, who is serving a 17 year sentence in Iraeli occupation prison. She was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment on 18 July.

shurouq8. Shurouq Dwayyat, 18, a first year university student at Bethlehem University, from Sur Bahir south of occupied Jerusalem, was shot with live bullets on 7 October by an illegal Israeli settler colonist. Israeli occupation forces raided her home and detained her gfather and sister; she was cuffed to the bed in her hospital room and denied family visits. As she walked towards Al-Aqsa Mosque, a settler taunting Palestinians attempted to remove her hijab, she pushed him away in self-defense and he then shot her and accused her of attempting to stab him. Shurouq now remains injured and imprisoned. Shurouq’s brother has been issued an order to demolish his home by the Israeli occupation, under the pretext of building without a permit.

9. Haniyeh Nasser, 25, is a Palestinian political prisoner who was released in 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange with the Palestinian resistance. She was rearrested on 10 December 2014 as part of large-scale raids targeting former prisoners and releasees. Israeli Military Order 1651 allows former prisoners to be reimprisoned on previous charges on the basis of secret evidence. Her original sentence was reimposed upon her on 30 April 2015.

ihsandbabseh10. Ihsan Dababseh, 29, a former Palestinian prisoner who was arrested on 15 October 2014 after she refused to report for interrogation. Her computer was seized. Riham Alhelsi reported, “Israeli occupation soldiers raided her house several times, sent her 4 summons and threatened to blow up her house of she didn’t come to interrogation center. She went with her mother to detention center and was detained and her personal computer was confiscated, while her mother told to leave. ”

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:

jurinqadah11. Jurin Qadah, 19, of Shiqba, near Ramallah, is the second Palestinian woman subject to administrative detention without charge or trial. A second-year media student at Bir Zeit University, Qadah was ordered by an Israeli occupation military court to three months imprisonment without charge or trial on 4 November. Her home was invaded by Israeli occupation forces on 28 October; Jurin was injured by Israeli soldiers taken away and sent almost immediately to administrative detention.

12. Nurhan Awad, 14, was shot and severely injured by Israeli occupation forces on 23 November, while her cousin Hadeel was killed by occupation forces. Nurhan and Hadeel were accused of attempting to stab Israeli settlers with scissors, and running away, after which they were shot by Israeli occupation forces. Video clearly shows Nurhan being shot as she lay motionless on the ground, the occupation forces above her. Nurhan is currently being detained while hospitalized for her severe injuries:

sabreen-sharar13. Sabreen Abu Sharar, 25, a doctor, has been imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces since 7 June. Abu Sharar graduated with her medical degree from Kasr al-Aini medical school in Cairo in 2014 and was working an the Al-Khalil public hospital; her home in al-Khalil was raided by 15-20 soldiers in the middle of the night and she was taken by occupation forces. Sabreen’s mother is an American citizen, but Sabreen renounced her U.S. citizenship in protest of U.S. support for the occupation. She has spoken about being subject to physical and psychological torture and abuse in prison, including being imprisoned in a cell one and a half meters by one and a half meters, given only a dirty mattress, denied sleep, threatened and attacked by her interrogators.

14. Filastin Nijm, 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 and sentenced to four years imprisonment and fined. Reham Alhelsi quoted Filastin discussing the conditions in Israeli prisons:

It is a journey of slow death; an iron structure with iron chairs and walls, smell of vomit is everywhere, and there is no toilet or ventilation despite the fact that the journey in the “bosta” lasts hours and the weekly “journey” for some prisoners… It is very cold, seats are very close to each other to the point of causing pain to the knee, joints and back. The prisoner cannot sit in a comfortable position, because of the restrictions and hand and leg shackles. She also remembers the waiting rooms at the Ofer prison before the court session: “My court session ends in the morning hours, but they keep me held in the dirty waiting rooms until the end of all trials, i.e. at around 17:00, to send me back to Hasharon…. These rooms are as dirty as a dumpsite; there are insects and cockroaches, the smell of humidity is stark, there is lack of air and sun, you cannot use the toilet, even if you need it urgently, because of its dirtiness and the filth is beyond description.”

wiam-aseedah15. Wiam ‘Aseeda, 23, 22, a student at Al-Najah University from Tel village near Nablus, was beaten to the ground by Israeli soldiers at Zaatara checkpoint ouside Nablus on 11 November 2013, then handcuffed and taken away in a police car, accused of possessing a knife. She is now held in HaSharon prison, sentenced to 32 months imprisonment. Wiam’s brother Asem was killed by Israeli occupation forces.

16. Alia Abbasi, 50, of Jerusalem, the mother of Palestinian political prisoner Issa Daoud Abbasi, is serving a 26-month prison sentence, accused of attempting to stab an Israeli occupation soldier at a checkpoint in Shuafat in 2012. She spent two years under house arrest and was sentenced in June 2014.

17. Shifa Obeid Shallodi, 35, was arrested with her 11-year-old child and other young relatives in Silwan on 21 October, when their home was stormed by Israeli occupation forces. Her detention has been extended repeatedly; on 20 November, she was ordered released subject to house arrest and 10,000 NIS bail, but the occupation military continues to hold her and is appealing the order of her release.

najwan-odeh18. Najwan Odeh works in the Qatar Charity Palestine Office in Al-Bireh, and presents a women’s radio program on Ramallah FM Radio. She was arrested by Israeli occupation forces after a dawn raid on her home on 7 September. She was arrested along with two other employees of the foundation, Jawdah al-Jamal and Fadi Manasra, accused of transferring funds to “hostile organizations.” When she came to court, she delivered a number of messages from other women prisoners, urging they be broadcast on the radio to reach their families.

shireenissawi19. 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. He has now had his former sentence reimposed under an Israeli military order that provides for sentence reimposition under secret evidence.

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 2014.

ibtisam-hamarsheh20. Ibtisam Hamarsheh, 60, from Yaboud near Jenin, was sentenced to six months imprisonment by an Israeli occupation military court on 25 July, after being accused of attempting to smuggle a mobile phone to her imprisoned son.

She had been under house arrest in her sister’s home in Umm al-Fahm since 25 May.

fathiya-khanfar21. Fathiyeh Khanfar, 61, from Jenin, is serving an 11-month sentence in Israeli occupation prisons after years of house arrest and hearings accusing her of sending a SIM card to her imprisoned son. She is suffering from poor health, including high blood pressure, and had several recent surgeries. She has been denied access to proper ventilation or clean water and is suffering heavily.

22. Nisrin Hassan, 40, a Palestinian citizen of Israel married to a Palestinian from Gaza, was arrested by Israeli occupation forces on 5 November and accused of photographing Israeli military sites in order to benefit the Palestinian resistance.

dunia-waked23. 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. Two of Dunya’s brothers were killed by Israeli occupation forces. 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.

amal-taqatqa24. Amal Taqatqa, 23, of Beit Fajjar near Bethlehem, was shot and arrested on 1 December 2014 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.

25. Thurayya 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 was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment on 12 February 2015.

rawan-abumatar26. Rawan Abu Matar, 17, was arrested on 16 July 2015, accused of engaging in a resistance action of stabbing an occupation soldier at a military checkpoint outside the illegal Nahliel settlement northwest of Ramallah. Rawan is from Beit Ilu in Ramallah area.

27. Marah al-Bakri, 17, was shot up to ten times by an illegal Israeli settler on 14 October as she and her friend walked from the Abdullah Ben Hussein Girls School in Jerusalem. She was then accused of attempting to stab an occupation border police officer. She remains imprisoned following hospitalization for her wounds.

28. Jihan Ereikat, 17, from Eizariyya east of Jerusalem, was taken by Israeli occupation forces from outside the Ibrahimi Mosque on 27 October. She and her sister Nour were passing in front of the mosque when occupation soldiers stopped and demanded to search them. They refused and were arrested, accused of possessing knives in their bags. Two guards of the mosque, Salah Jabari and Jehad Jabari, were also arrested when they intervened and prevented the occupation soldiers from shooting the girls.

29. Hilweh Darwish Hamamreh, 25, from Husam village near Bethlehem, was shot and severely injured by Israeli occupation forces outside the settlement of Beitar Illit near Bethlehem on 8 November. She remains hospitalized and her detention has been extended repeatedly; she has been in a coma, is married and a mother. She is accused of attempting to stab a settlement security guard in a Palestinian resistance action, who was lightly injured.

30. Istabraq Noor, 15, from Madama, south of Nablus, was shot on 21 October by Israeli occupation forces near the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar built on occupied and confiscated Palestinian land. Israeli forces claimed that she was attempting to sneak into and attack the settlement. She remains imprisoned after hospitalization for her wounds. “The Yizhar settlement where Noor was shot overnight has gained notoriety among both Israelis and Palestinians as a bastion of extremists and its Israeli residents regularly carry out attacks on Palestinians and their property.”

31. Israa Jaabes, 31, of Jabal Mukaber, living in Al-Tur, is hospitalized with severe burns after a fire in her car near Al-Zayem checkpoint near Jerusalem on 12 October. Her car stopped before the checkpoint; there was a fire in the car, her airbag exploded and she was injured and hospitalized. Israeli occupation forces are accusing her of attempting to engage in a resistance operation and exploding her car; the car did not explode and Israa was the only person injured in the fire inside the car. Witnesses have stated that it looked as if the car suffered an electrical fault.

donya-musleh32. Donya Musleh, 19, Palestinian refugee and university student living in Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, was arrested by Israeli occupation forces invading the camp on 16 November, who invaded her home and took her away. Donya is an activist with the Progressive Student Labor Front, a leftist Palestinian university students’ organization.

33. Samiya Mahahreh, 30, was arrested on 9 November as she entered Eshel prison to visit her imprisoned husband Fahmi, accused of attempting to smuggle a mobile phone to her husband. Her detention has been repeatedly extended.

34. Leen al-Hih, 18, of Surif, was arrested by Israeli occupation forces on 19 November at the Container checkpoint near blocked-off Shuhada street, accused of trying to cross the roadblock there.

35. Abeer al-Qadi, 45, was taken from her home in Surif near al-Khalil on 17 November in a late-night raid by Israeli occupation forces. Her husband, Ahmad, said that Israeli forces ransacked the home and took 65,000 NIS ($20,000).

36. Hiba Jubran, 16, a student, was arrested near Beit Sahour east of Bethlehem as she walked to school, along with Hadeel Qalbiya and Nour Salama. The three were arrested by Israeli occupation forces on 19 November and are being accused of “possessing knives.”

37. Hadeel Qalbiya, 16, a student, was arrested near Beit Sahour east of Bethlehem as she walked to school, along with Hiba Jubran and Nour Salama. The three were arrested by Israeli occupation forces on 19 November and are being accused of “possessing knives.”

38. Nour Nidal Salama, 16, a student, was arrested near Beit Sahour east of Bethlehem as she walked to school, along with Hiba Jubran and Hadeel Qalbiya. The three were arrested by Israeli occupation forces on 19 November and are being accused of “possessing knives.”