Women Prisoners’ Update: Released prisoners urge action to support freedom struggle

Palestinian prisoner Amira Hmeidat, 35, was released after a year in Israeli occupation prisons on 3 November, returning to her home in Surif village near Al-Khalil. Speaking with Asra Voice, she emphasized the difficult conditions faced by imprisoned Palestinian women, especially those held in Damon prison, as it lacks fundamental necessities and the women are forced to repeatedly travel long distances via the “bosta.” This issue has been raised by Palestinian hunger strikers Samer Issawi and Munther Snobar, now on their 12th day of hunger strike for improved conditions for Palestinian prisoners.


Hmeidat also urged that Palestinian prisoners be prioritized in the Palestinian and international political context.  Hmeidat had been imprisoned since 16 November 2015, when more than 30 occupation military vehicles surrounded her home and invaded it, attempting to seize her son who was not present.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Arwa Sultan was seized by Israeli occupation forces on Thursday evening, 3 November, from her own home in Al-Khalil. Her husband, Jad Sultan, was arrested ten days before; they are the parents of six children.

Palestinian Jerusalemite Ghadeer Jamjoum was released on Friday evening, 4 November, after 24 days under interrogation in the Moskobiya interrogation and detention center, during which she was forbidden from seeing a lawyer. She was seized by occupation soldiers in a raid on her home in Al-Ram on 12 October, and during her time in interrogation, the Israeli occupation prohibited the publication of any details about her arrest. Upon her release, she was ordered to two weeks house arrest, a fine of 2,000 NIS ($450 USD) and a bail of 10,000 NIS ($2200 USD).

On Sunday, 30 October, Majida Shureitah, 47, the mother of Palestinian prisoner Maher Shureitah, was arrested as she headed to visit him inside Israeli prison; she was accused of attempting to smuggle forbidden items to her son, who is imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention.  Maher has been imprisoned for seven months. Majida was released on Friday, 4 November after a week of detention.

amina-salah-releasedAlso released on Tuesday, 1 November was Amina Salah, 30, of al-Khader village west of Bethlehem after ten months in Israeli prisons. She was arrested on 16 June 2015 as she visited her then-imprisoned husband, Othman Salah, in Eshel prison and accused of attempting to smuggle a mobile phone into the prison. Amina was accompanied by their six-year-old son at the time, who was given to her parents, and she was held under interrogation for ten days. She was released on bail of 30,000 NIS ($7,000 USD) and held under house arrest for six months. In January 2016, less than two weeks after her husband was released from prison, she was re-arrested and ordered to a total sentence of 15 months imprisonment, during which she was held in HaSharon and Damon prisons. She was released after serving two-thirds of her sentence, 10 months, and was welcomed home by a large crowd of family and friends.

In an interview with Asra Voice, Salah thanked the radio station for its efforts to continue communication between prisoners and their families on behalf of all the women prisoners in Damon; she emphasized that the prisoners are being isolated from their families and communities and are demanding freedom.

There are approximately 60 women prisoners held in Israeli prisons, including 13 minor girls under 18. On Tuesday, 1 November, Fatima Badran Abu Mialeh, 17, from al-Khalil, was seized by occupation forces at a checkpoint near the Ibrahimi mosque, accusing her of carrying a knife in her bag, allegedly found by occupation soldiers as they searched her.

She joins the other girls held in HaSharon prison, including Istabraq Noor, 15, whose sister Sondos provided an interview to Asra Voice about Istabraq’s case. Istabraq was shot in her hand and arm on 21 October 2015 near the colonial settlement of Yitzhar near her city of Nablus and was seriously injured. Accused of attempting to stab an occupation settler despite the lack of injury to any party other than Istabraq, she was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Sondos said that Istabraq has been denied family visits for five months, that the family has been prohibited from sending her clothes and that she continues to be denied proper medical treatment or access to an independent doctor; she continues to suffer after taking three bullets in her right arm. Sondos also expressed her concern for Istabraq’s education, noting that she is receiving only minimal access to education inside the prison.

dareenMeanwhile, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, 34, continues to struggle against house imprisonment in her village of Reineh. For over a year, Tatour, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, has faced persecution, including a raid on her home, several months of imprisonment, house arrest far from her home village in Tel Aviv and now house arrest in Reineh, based on charges of “incitement” for publishing her poem “Resist, my people, resist them” on YouTube. Her case has drawn attention and support from writers, poets and artists around the world including PEN, the international freedom of expression association.

Tatour’s lawyers filed a motion to lift the house arrest conditions on her, given the lengthy pendency of the case and its ongoing nature, stating that the prosecution presented no substantial evidence in the main case. The next hearing in the incitement case will take place on 17 November. On 31 October, a hearing was held on her house arrest, which ended with a request for an additional security report; the next hearing will take place on 14 November.