Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zbaidi brothers denied visits in Israeli prisons: family targeted for detention

14.09.09 - 18:39 Jenin / Ali Samoudi for PNN – It had been years since Daoud Zbaidi was allowed to see his brothers.
As a political prisoner in the Al Naqab Prison, Zbaidi was banned from visits by three brothers under the pretext of security. He was released three months ago, but his brother, Jibril, remains inside the prison. Zbaidi said he could not believe it when the Red Cross told him that the Israeli administration had granted him permission to visit Jibril who was recently transferred between Al Naqab and Jilboa.
Zbaidi describes years of difficult conditions under occupation including “all forms of punishment and retaliation”: separation from family, the destruction of the family home, and the targeting of his mother and siblings. Both his mother and brother were killed.
Daoud and Jibril are the brothers of Zakaria Zbaidi, a leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades, the armed resistance wing of the Fateh party in Jenin.
It was with feelings of joy and happiness that Daoud received the news from the Red Cross that he would be allowed to visit Jibril, particularly as all of the other family members were refused. Daoud was not allowed visits himself during his 20 months of detention, not even by his wife.
The night before the visit Daoud says he did not sleep a wink. He said that his family has not had a Ramadan breakfast together, and instead lives in sadness and pain during the month due to the loss of their mother. She was killed by Israeli forces in March of 2002, while brother Taha was killed a month later during the battle of Jenin Refugee Camp.
Brother Yahya was arrested in April 2002 while Jibril was sentenced in 2005 to 12 years. Daoud says that during Ramadan he spends time with his wife and child, but that the joy is missing because of the pain his family is in. This Ramadan, however, was different, he said, because of the impending visit to Jibril.
On Sunday morning Daoud set out from his home in the northern West Bank’s Jenin Refugee Camp. He said he felt happy for the first time in years. Friends had been over late into the night and no one slept in anticipation of the visit. Inside the prison Jibril had not slept either waiting to see his brother.
At the Jalama Checkpoint, Zbaidi was stopped along with all on the visitation bus. He gave his ID to the soldiers at the checkpoint who took him into a heavily guarded room. He was put through screening and inspection several times. Daoud described an officer as saying he was dangerous and should be closely monitored. “Since all of the visitors were passing easily, I felt concerned that I would be deprived my visit,” Daoud told PNN.
But he did make it through and was back on the bus where he said he forgot about being detained, and instead dreamed of the moment he would arrive at the visiting room in Al Naqab Prison.
Like the rest of the families there for visits Daoud handed his ID to the guards. He says he fell into a state of shock when he was told that despite his papers for a visit, he would not be allowed to see his brother. Daoud asked to speak to prison administrators for a review of the issue, but nothing changed.
“I cannot describe the agony of having meters separating me and my brother who was also waiting on pins and needles for the visit,” Daoud told PNN.
Jibril Zbaidi is deprived of visits from his family both during Ramadan and the rest of the year.
“Our sorrows will continue through his detention,” added Daoud.