Imprisoned Palestinian mother Rusaila Shamasneh launches hunger strike against isolation of 14-year-old daughter Sarah

Rusaila and Sarah Shamasneh with Mohammed Shamasneh

Mother and daughter Rusaila Shamasneh and 14-year-old Sarah Shamasneh were brought before the Ofer Israeli occupation military court on Tuesday, 13 February. The two were seized from their home in Qatana, northwest of Jerusalem, on 31 January. The Shamasnehs are the mother and sister of Mohammed Shamasneh, who was killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2016 after he participated in a stabbing operation against an armed occupation soldier in Jerusalem and attempted to grab the soldier’s weapon.

Rusaila Shamasneh

While many people know of the imprisonment of Nariman and Ahed Tamimi, they are not the only mother-daughter pair held in Israeli jails. Rusaila, 48, and her daughter are being held isolated from one another under interrogation. Reports have indicated that Rusaila has launched a hunger strike against her forced separation from her daughter and is now on her 10th day of open hunger strike. Both mother and daughter are held in HaSharon prison.

Rusaila Shamasneh is being accused in the military courts of firing a gun into the air during the funeral of her son in 2016 and “assaulting” a soldier during her arrest after her daughter, Sarah, was reportedly pushed and hit by the invading forces attacking the family home. The Shamasneh’s lawyer, Ismail al-Tawil, emphasized that the so-called charges are two years old; at the time, Sarah was only 12.  al-Tawil also noted that Sarah was hospitalized due to her injuries from the soldiers’ attack, and that Rusaila is bruised and injured as well.

Sara Hamida

Meanwhile, Sara Hamida, from Bethlehem, was sentenced by an Israeli military court on 13 February to four months in prison and a 4,000 NIS ($1,000 USD) fine. She is a student at the Polytechnic University in al-Khalil and was seized on 28 December as she traveled home from university past a military checkpoint.

Bayan Taha Khamaisa

Fellow student at the Polytechnic University, Bayan Taha Khamaisa, 21, from the town of Tafouh in al-Khalil, was sentenced by an Israeli military court on 6 February to three and a half months in Israeli prison and a 4,000 NIS ($1000 USD) fine. She was seized by occupation forces who stormed her family home on 16 November 2017. The students were charged with “incitement” for publicly posting their political views and for organizing with the Islamic bloc at the university. Palestinian students are regularly subject to raids, arrests and imprisonment for participating in student activities, events and organizing on campus.

Fadwa Hamadeh

Israeli military courts further continued the case of Fadwa Hamadeh, 30, from the village of Sur Baher, on 7 February. She has been imprisoned since 12 August 2017, and her trial has been continued more than 10 times since her arrest; occupation forces have accused her of possessing a knife and attempting to stab occupation forces near Bab al-Amoud in Jerusalem. She has been kept from her young children for the past seven months.

Yasmine Abu Srour

On 6 February, occupation forces invaded the home of Palestinian prisoner Yasmine Abu Srour, 20, from Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem. They ransacked Yasmine’s room and confiscated her computer; she has been imprisoned by occupation forces since 17 January, when they invaded her family’s home, ransacking and destroying its contents. She is currently held in HaSharon prison. She was previously jailed for three months in 2015 after being accused of having a knife in her bag when going to visit her brother Ashraf in Eshel prison.

Palestinian child prisoner Rama Abdellatif, 16, began an eight-month prison sentence on 5 February 2018 in HaSharon prison with the other minor girl prisoners; she was originally arrested by occupation forces on 15 Febrary 2016 and was jailed for two months until she was released on conditions. Her military court hearings have continued since that time, during which she was banished from her home city of Jerusalem and confined to the village of Beit Naquba in occupied Palestine ’48.