“I have entered prison as a cub and I will leave it as a lion:” Palestinian child prisoner writes to his family

Palestinian child prisoner Mohammed Taha, 16, sent the following letter to his family from Israeli prison, where he is serving an 11-year sentence. A Palestinian refugee from Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp, Mohammed is one of a number of Palestinian children – especially Palestinian Jerusalemites – serving lengthy sentences in Israeli jails.

Mohammed was accused along with Munther Abu Mayala, 15, a fellow Palestinian refugee from Shuafat. Monther and Mohammed were accused of “attempted murder” for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli settler youth at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on 30 January 2016. The 17-year-old in question was allegedly “lightly wounded.” They were also convicted of “possession of a knife.”

Mohammed’s and Munther’s lengthy sentences come alongside the 12-year sentence for Ahmad Manasrah, the 13-year sentence for Nurhan Awad, and the six-year sentences for Muawiya Alqam and Manar Shweiki, among other long prison terms for Palestinian children.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network calls for the immediate release of Mohammed and all imprisoned Palestinian children. We further call for international action to compel the Israeli state to respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and end international military aid and assistance that funds the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children. The imprisonment, oppression, and killing of Palestinian children by the Israeli occupation is part and parcel of the Israeli colonial project in Palestine, and the only true freedom for Palestinian children will be achieved through the freedom of the Palestinian people and Palestinian land.

Mohammed’s letter to his family follows:

{Mother} {Sister}

From Mohammed to his dearest family, Greetings

Good greetings, how are you my dearest ones? I miss you very much. How is Amir’s mother? How are you doing? Please greet on my behalf all of my aunts and my uncles, and the children of my aunts and my uncles, and everybody. Mom, how are you? I miss you a lot and I miss teasing you a lot. How is Mahdi? I miss them. And how is Abu Jana and Um Jana? Say hello to everybody and insh’allah I will soon be amongst you. Say hello to Abu Adib and Abu Amir and my grandmother and grandfather and greet everyone who greets me back, the boys in the neighborhood, the neighbors, Um Adam, Adam, my uncle Bassam and his children. I hope you all are happy. God willing, I will be with you in the near days and our happiness will be complete. Mom, I want you to count on me and please don’t be sad, OK?

I have entered prison as a cub and I will leave it as a lion. Insh’allah I will go back and shine on the neighborhood and our house, and you will be happy and I will get married and we will all be happy. The real judgement is the judgement of God, so don’t be sad that they have given me a sentence of 11 years. It is nothing. Open your eyes, close your eyes, and I will be with you. I swear it will be soon.

{Mom} {Dad}

{I do not regret a thing I did, I do not regret the prison I enter}