Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender Shireen Issawi was released on Tuesday, 17 October after 43 months in Israeli prisons. Issawi, the sister of fellow prisoners Medhat and Samer Issawi and the spokesperson for her brother Samer’s campaign during his lengthy hunger strike, served 43 months in Israeli prison.
On Tuesday, Issawi’s freedom did not come easily; Issawi was seized after being released from Damon prison by occupation forces and taken to the Moskobiyeh interrogation center as her brother Shadi was also taken for questioning. At the same time that she was interrogated, as her family waited for the celebration of her release in Issawiyeh in Jerusalem, occupation forces attacked the home, tearing down posters welcoming Shireen and her freedom.
“They re-arrested me with the aim of upsetting my family’s joy at my release and I decided not to allow them to do so,” said Issawi to Al-Jazeera. “We are a people living under occupaiton and we have a right to rejoice.”
Accused of helping prisoners’ families to transfer messages, letters and funds to the “canteen” or prison store accounts of imprisoned Palestinians as part of her work with the prisoners, Issawi was sentenced to four years in Israeli prison; her brother Medhat was sentenced with her to eight years. She appealed her sentence to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ruled on Monday, 16 October that she should be released early, with four months remaining on her sentence.
Shadi Issawi, Shireen’s brother, said that she spent a significant portion of her imprisonment held in solitary confinement, denouncing abuse by the prison administration.
Meanwhile, a fifth Palestinian woman was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial, out of approximately 57 women prisoners on 17 October. Khadija al-Rubai, 30, of Yatta east of al-Khalil, was arrested by occupation forces one week ago when they invaded her home in a pre-dawn raid and confiscated 30,000 NIS ($8,000 USD).
There are over 450 Palestinians jailed without trial or charge under administrative detention orders, which are indefinitely renewable. Including al-Rubai, there are currently five women in administrative detention; the others are Palestinian leftist legislator and national leader Khalida Jarrar, Ihsan Dababseh, Afnan Abu Haniyeh and Sabah Faraoun.
Palestinian women prisoners are held in two jails, HaSharon and Damon prisons. 23 women are held in two rooms in Damon prison, while the remaining 34 women, including 10 minor girls, are held in HaSharon prison. Women in Damon prison have repeatedly protested their conditions of confinement in recent months and have been subject to solitary confinement and other forms of abuse.
One of those minor girls and the youngest female Palestinian prisoner, Malak al-Ghaliz, 14, was sentenced to 9 months in Israeli prison by the Ofer military court on Monday, 16 October. Malak, from Jalazone refugee camp outside Ramallah was also orered to pay a fine of 4,000 NIS ($1,000 USD.) Malak is scheduled for release on 20 January 2018.
Also scheduled for release on Tuesday, 17 October is Mariam Khaled Arafat, 23, from Nablus; she has been imprisoned since 28 November 2015, sentenced to two years in prison and accused of attempting to stab Israeli occupation soldiers at a checkpoint near her home. During her imprisonment, she was denied family visits for lengthy periods.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Shireen Issawi upon her release. Her imprisonment was part of a systematic attack on Palestinian lawyers and legal workers aimed at keeping Palestinian prisoners in an even more precarious situation than they already are, as well as a clear targeting of a family engaged in struggle. We urge the immediate and unconditional liberation of all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.