Profile: Ghassan Zawahreh

ghassan-zawahreh2Ghassan Zawahreh, 34, is a Palestinian refugee from Palestine ’48, who is a resident of Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. Married and a father, he has spent nearly ten years in detention through multiple arrests. His right hand is injured after he was beaten during a previous arrest by Israeli occupation forces. He also has injuries to his left leg and knee after beatings during his first arrest in 2002, for which he was denied treatment for three years.

Ghassan’s family have faced frequent imprisoment by Israeli forces; only his mother and sister have been allowed to visit him throughout his various detentions, 3 of those years without charge or trial under administrative detention. He was arrested on 4 August 2014 and was sent to administrative detention, which has been renewed three more times. He launched his hunger strike on 20 August 2015. After 40 days of hunger strike, he and his comrades ended their strike with an agreement to release him on 30 November 2015.

During his time in prison, his brother Moataz was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces on 15 October 2015 as he participated in a protest in Dheisheh camp; he had returned home from study in France in order to support Ghassan in the strike. Upon his release on 30 November, Ghassan immediately went to his brother’s gravesite to honor his loss.

Ghassan Zawahreh was arrested again in a pre-dawn raid on Dheisheh refugee camp on 19 July 2016 by Israeli occupation forces.

His brother Mohammed served five years in Israeli occupation; his younger brother Ahmad and Hamdan have both been arrested; Hamdan was held for nearly two years by Israeli military forces.

He was in his last year of studies in social work at the Open University of Jerusalem when he was arrested in 2008, and has been prevented from completing his studies through multiple arrests.

He is well-known in the camp as a community activist and volunteer in popular programs that provide social services to people in the camp. He worked as a taxi driver in order to support his family, on the Bethlehem-Ramallah road.