Friday, April 17, 2009

Captive Yousef Ershaid “celebrates” sixteen years behind bars

15.04.09 - 11:14

PNN exclusive / Ali Samoudi - Yousef Abdul-Hamid Ershaid of Jenin ‘celebrated’ his sixteenth anniversary in Israeli prison.

He is among the prominent leaders of the Fateh movement.

Ershaid was also a leader of the original Fateh armed resistance movement, il Fahaad al Aswad[the Black Hawks].

His name has been stricken from all the lists of possible exchanges and refused release, as his wife tells PNN. His name was included in the list of “never to be included in exchanges” designated by Israel, although he is suffering from trauma and a disease caused by the Israeli bullets that wounded him several times, particularly during the first intifada.

Before his latest imprisonment, Ershaid had survived several assassination attempts by Israel.

Successive arrests

On the anniversary of the arrest of her husband, who is serving five-times life, the 55 year old has been unable to count the number of times or the years her husband has spent in isolation, solitary confinement, and punishment as part of a “campaign of revenge,” as she describes it, for his role during the struggle with Fateh against the occupation.
He has had three consecutive arrests, including the most recent one, in which Israeli special forces ambushed him near the village of Anin and fired at him; he narrowly escaped death and was wounded by several bullets in his left foot. As a result of his continued arrest and the interrogation, which is known to include torture, Ershaid’s health has deteriorated and suffered; he has been convicted and imprisoned this time for 24 months.

Prosecution and targeting

All of the incidences of arrest did not affect the morale of Yousef Ershaid and his belief in his case or the Palestinian cause and resistance to Israeli occupation. It is an internationally protected right to defend against an occupier.
His mother says that she hopes to embrace her son, or to have him sleep in her home upon his release. The Israeli forces first began to pursue Ershaid in 1989 under the pretext of military activity in the Fateh movement, and yet their contribution to the formation of armed resistance groups has intensified.
The Ershaid family home has been subject to dozens of raids and inspections. Yousef survived the ambush and detention, but in 1990 special units attacked in an ambush in the northern West Bank town of Alsellp Harthiya. He suffered greatly, yet in spite of his various injuries he miraculously escaped death. His life was difficult due to the circumstances of the prosecution and the inability to transfer to the hospital. Treatment was withheld until almost too late, but by divine providence an amputated muscle from a part of the thigh was woven and grafted to the site of injury on his foot.
At the same time, his mother was living and suffering because of the arrest of her second son Imad, who was serving a sentence of imprisonment for a term of four and a half years on charges of membership in the Fateh movement.
Marriage challenge

Despite his poor health Yousef Ershaid refused to give in to the occupation, but to challenge it instead. To confirm his legitimate right to life, his mother says he decided to marry, a wish that was fulfilled in 1992 in spite of the concern that it would lead to an attack by Israeli forces.

Joy has not been completed

During the prosecution of Yousef Ershaid his wife gave birth to a son, Tflana. Ershaid was said to be “very sad” because he was unable to attend the birth, but he insisted on seeing his son. Although in hiding from Israeli forces, he snuck into the house near Seer Village; it was a joyous moment when he saw his child and was able for the first time from to hold and kiss him. Ershaid called to God for a good life for his son Tflana and was happy and joyful. This was the first and last time his hands touched his child. The occupation forces stormed the village, where they posted a lookout and deployed hundreds of soldiers in each place. This finally resulted in his arrest; they immediately took him to the cellars of solitary confinement for three months of interrogation and severe torture, isolation and deprivation of all rights. They issued a harsh sentence based on the charge of political affiliation; that of being among the leadership of the armed resistance wing of Fateh and the killing of Israelis and the implementation of resistance activity.

Medical neglect

According to his wife, not only did Yousef suffer from the harsh conditions of detention, but by the bullets, which are still lodged in different parts of his body, especially the reproductive apparatus. In spite of his poor health, the prison administration is still refusing to carry out surgical operations for the removal of lead, claiming that this would lead to a paralysis. But Yousef’s wife says several times that the claims are invalid because they want him to live with the bullets, which kills a man's body and cause great repercussions and the treatment of pain is only by the administration of sedatives.

Despite the patience of Yousef Ershaid, he and his family are living a state of fear and anxiety over their own destiny. Without hope of inclusion in a prisoner exchange, the family wonders if they will ever again see their beloved Yousef.