After International Women’s Day: Palestinian novelist, parliamentarian seized by Israeli occupation forces

The days following International Women’s Day have witnessed continued arrests and repression of Palestinian women. On Saturday morning, 11 March, Palestinian novelist Khalida Ghosheh was seized from her home by Israeli forces in Jerusalem.  Palestinians in Jerusalem noted to Wattan TV that she has a new novel being published soon, which looks at the Israeli use of collaborators to suppress Palestinian resistance.

Samira Halaiqa, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was seized by Israeli occupation forces on Thursday, 9 March, raising the number of imprisoned PLC members to 10. Halaiqa was seized in al-Khalil by occupation forces who invaded and ransacked her family home.

Halaiqa is a PLC member representing the Change and Reform bloc, associated with the political perspectives of Hamas. This bloc holds the majority of PLC seats. The last female PLC member to be imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces was Khalida Jarrar, a prominent leftist leader who is also well-known as an advocate for Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinian prisoner advocate Abdel Nasser Ferwana said that many PLC members had been imprisoned more than once and that over 65 members of the PLC have been detained since 2006, around 50% of the total membership of the legislative body.  Halaiqa’s arrest came only three days after the seizure of two more Palestinian legislators, Khaled Tafesh and Anwar Zboun, both also of the Change and Reform bloc in Bethlehem. Fellow imprisoned PLC members include Hassan Yousef and Ahmad Mubarak of Ramallah and Azzam Salhab and Mohammed Jamal Natsheh of al-Khalil, all of whom are held in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Imprisoned General Secretary of the PFLP Ahmad Sa’adat is serving a 30 year sentence; Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi is serving several life sentences. Jerusalemite PLC member Mohammed Abu Teir, who was also expelled from Jerusalem, is serving a 17-month sentence in Israeli prisons.

Palestinian prisoner Aliya Abbassi, 51, from the town of Silwan in Jerusalem, was released from Israeli prison on Friday, 10 March after completing her sentence of 22 months.

Abbassi has been imprisoned since 14 May 2015, accused of resisting the Israeli occupation and “possession of a knife,” and was one of the oldest women prisoners. She is also the mother of Issa Abbassi, a Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli jails imprisoned since 2010 and serving a 10-year sentence.

Abbassi was one of 18 Jerusalemite women – out of a total of around 55 imprisoned Palestinian women – held in Israeli jails. Maysa Abu Ghazaleh reported for Ma’an News about some of the Jerusalemite Palestinian women and girls held in Israeli jails, including Manar Shweiki, 16, the youngest imprisoned Jerusalemite. She is currently serving a six-year prison sentence, accused of possession of a knife and attempting to wound an Israeli occupation soldier. Manar’s mother said that “our relationship is not only that of mother and daughter. She is my sister and my friend…I miss her all the time….I wake up at night looking for her; a year after her arrest and the days are constantly harder for us. I see her clothes and belongings and I feel like we’re in a dream. I cannot believe she is under arrest.” Manar plans to study to become a journalist; her mother noted her love for Palestine and for photography.

Malak Salman, 17, is from Beit Safafa south of the city of Jerusalem. Her parents said that they only learned of the arrest of their daughter by Israeli occupation forces after it was reported on social media; she faces 12 to 13 years in prison and is accused of “attempting to stab” and “possession of a knife.” Her mother said she is working to read and study in the prison, urging attention to be paid to the issues of the imprisoned “flowers,” the minor girls held as Palestinian political prisoners. “She gives me advice as if she is my mother,” Malak’s mother said. “She taught her brothers and helped me raise them and play with them. Her absence is the absence of laughter and joy.” Like Manar, Malak also wishes to study journalism.

Nurhan Awad, 18, recently turned 18 after being sentenced to 13 years in Israeli prison; she was with her younger cousin, Hadeel, who was killed by Israeli settlers while she was shot with three bullets in the foot, hand and abdomen. Her father noted that her family has been denied visits while she was hospitalized and they were forbidden from sending a private doctor to treat or examine her. He said that Nurhan wanted to become a lawyer since she was in 10th grade in order to defend the Palestinian prisoners and denounced her lengthy sentence.

Marah Bakir is another imprisoned young Palestinian prisoner who recently turned 18. Her mother, Suzan Bakir, said that “years are passing without her presence among us. The joy of our home is deferred until her release; I cannot do the simplest things with Marah taken from us.” She said that Marah studied and passed the Tawjihi examinations despite the bones of her hand being smashed by bullets and severely injured. Marah was returned to prison only four days after surgery on her hand despite ongoing and severe pain.