Photo: Asra Media

Three young Palestinian women and girls successfully passed the secondary school examinations from inside Israeli prisons. Lama Hafez al-Bakri (16), Malak Mohammed Salman (18) and Manar Majdi Shweiki (16) obtained scores of 80%, 91% and 90% respectively.

All three girls were sentenced to lengthy prison terms after they were arrested as minors. Lama is serving a 39-month sentence, accused of possession of a knife, while Manar was sentenced to six years in Israeli prison, accused of attempting to stab Israeli occupation forces. Malak was sentenced to 10 years in Israeli prisons for allegedly stabbing occupation forces at the Damascus gate in Jerusalem.

The lengthy sentences handed out to Malak and Manar parallel a number of other extremely long sentences against Palestinian children from Jerusalem. Nurhan Awad was sentenced to 13 years in Israeli prisons, Ahmed Manasrah to 12 years and Muawiya Alqam to 6 years. In all cases, the children were by far the most severely injured parties; in the cases of Nurhan and Ahmed, both witnessed the killing of their young cousins beside them before being seized by occupation forces.

The Palestinian minor girls, held in HaSharon prison, achieved this success despite being repeatedly denied access to teachers. Palestinian parliamentarian, leftist and feminist Khalida Jarrar ran classes for the girls. The prison administration attempted to ban the classes, sparking a protest among the women prisoners, who closed their section and refused meals until the administration relented and promised the return of an external teacher.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Lama, Malak and Manar on their accomplishments and all of the Palestinian child and youth prisoners who continue to struggle to achieve their right to education denied to them by the Israeli occupation. We demand the release of all Palestinian child prisoners and Palestinian prisoners sentenced as children in Israeli jails, as part of the freedom of all Palestinians imprisoned by the occupation.