Mother of Palestinian slain by Israeli forces imprisoned for posting on Facebook

Susan Abu Ghannam. Photo: Asra Media

Susan Abu Ghannam, 39, the mother of Mohammed Abu Ghannam, 22, who was killed by Israeli occupation forces in July 2017 as he protested against the imposition of electronic gates at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, was sentenced by an Israeli court to 11 months in prison on 17 December. Abu Ghannam was seized by occupation forces in early August 2018, only weeks after the one-year anniversary of the killing of her son. She was accused of “incitement” for posting about Palestine, politics and the killing of her child on Facebook, as prosecutors listed 40 of her social media posts. 

It should be noted that Israeli occupation forces attempted to steal her son’s body after killing him in an attempt to hold it hostage. The imprisonment of the bodies of slain Palestinians is used as a tactic to attempt to suppress Palestinian resistance and popular protest. Palestinians prevented occupation forces from seizing his body, carrying it over the hospital’s surrounding wall to the cemetery of Al-Tur village.

Photo: Wafaa Mahdawi, Asra Media

Ashraf Na’alwa‘s mother, Wafaa Mahdawi, remains imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces, even as her son was extrajudicially executed and her home in the Shweikeh village near Tulkarem demolished by those same forces. Mahdawi and other members of the Na’alwa family were imprisoned by occupation forces after they would not disclose the location of their son. Palestinian lawyer, Hanan al-Khatib, visited Mahdawi at Damon prison, where she said that the mother’s grief was “one of the most difficult and harshest scenes I witnessed as a lawyer visiting prisoners in Israeli jails on hundreds of occasions.” Wafaa Mahdawi is imprisoned as is her son, Ashraf’s older brother, and her son-in-law, her daughter Fairouz’ husband.  Indeed, Mahdawi’s detention was extended once more, until 22 January 2019, on 12 December, the day before her son was killed. 

Over 187 Palestinians have been seized since 13 December. Among them is Sabah Faraoun from Jerusalem, previously imprisoned without charge or trial for 18 months before her release on 21 December 2017. In addition, Palestinian prisoners in the Naqab desert prison have declared their intention to protest, with 60 prisoners affirming their willingness to enter a hunger strike, if Khawla al-Zeitawi, 40, is not freed by Israeli occupation forces. Al-Zeitawi, from Nablus, was seized by occupation forces on 16 December while visiting her brother Abdullah, held in the Negev prison and serving a 7-year sentence. She was previously imprisoned by occupation forces. The Center for Palestinian Prisoners’ Studies reported that her detention was extended for four days for interrogation. 

Meanwhile, on 17 December, Amina Odeh Mahmoud, 41, from Jabal al-Mukabber neighborhood in Jerusalem, was sentenced by an Israeli occupation court to 33 months in Israeli prison. She was seized by occupation forces on 4 December 2017 after being searched in the village of Sarda; after being taken for interrogation, she was transferred first to HaSharon prison and then to Damon prison with her fellow female prisoners. She was accused by occupation forces of planning to stab Israeli colonial soldiers. 

Image: Israa Jaber. Credit: Palestine Information Center

Israa Jaber, 19, from al-Khalil, was also sentenced on 10 December to 30 months in Israeli prison and 2000 NIS (around $650 USD) in fines; she has been imprisoned since 11 February 2017, accused of possessing a knife. Like other Palestinian girls, arrested as minors, she passed the national high school graduation exam (Tawjihi) while imprisoned. Palestinian girls have been repeatedly denied teachers by Israeli occupation forces and turned to self-organized classes, some led by imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarian, leftist and prominent political leader Khalida Jarrar, to advance their education behind bars. 

All Palestinian women prisoners are currently held in Damon prison after the mass transfer from HaSharon prison earlier in the year after a collective protest by women prisoners against the installation of surveillance cameras. There are approximately 53 Palestinian women prisoners jailed, including two held under administrative detention without charge or trial: Palestinian political leader, parliamentarian and feminist Khalida Jarrar and Palestinian student Fidaa Ikhlil, 21. On 17 December, Sahar Francis, the executive director of Addameer, visited Damon prison for legal meetings with women prisoners; however, she was only able to meet with women prisoners for 15 minutes before an emergency was suddenly declared.

The prison administration sent repair workers to fix the sewage system in room 11 at Damon prison, where seven Palestinian women prisoners are held; the women went to the recreation yard during the repairs. The prison administration then claimed that the women were required to stay in the toilets instead, seizing Yasmin Shaaban, formerly the representative of the HaSharon women prisoners, and detaining her in the legal visit room from 12 pm until 5:30 pm. She was then banned from family visits for one month and letters for two months. Occupation forces then seized all electronic items from room 11, except one heater. The women protested and refused to go to recreation; after their protest, Yasmin was released from isolation and returned to the room, but not before all of the women were threatened with a disciplinary hearing. 

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands in solidarity with Palestinian women prisoners, facing escalated repression and collective punishment. We urge broader international solidarity with their ongoing confrontations of unjust and arbitrary oppressive measures inside Israeli prisons and, most critically, the struggle for their liberation.