Saturday, November 26, 2011

Release of 3 prisoners delayed by Israeli authorities

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli prison authorities are delaying the release of three prisoners from Gaza who have completed their sentences.

The director of a prisoner's assembly, Muhammad Badr, on Friday named Abdullah Tawfiq al-Kurd, Wael Mousa Sharbaji and Wade Khamis Tamman as the prisoners who have had their release postponed.

Both al-Kurd and Sharbaji have finished their sentences of 9 and 7 years, respectively, and should have been released a month ago, Badr said.

Tamman, 30, has spent 10 years in jail and suffers from epilepsy.

Badr called on human rights organizations to help work for the release of all sick prisoners and put an end to violations by Israel.

It is not known why the release of the prisoners has been delayed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Israeli forces raid home of freed female prisoner

A Palestinian woman, with her hands chained, flashes victory signs as
she takes part in a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners
from Israeli jails, near the International Committee of Red Cross offices in
Beirut, October 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Sharif Karim)

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces raided the house of a female former prisoner near Ramallah on Sunday, less than a month after she was released under Hamas' prisoner exchange deal with Israel.

Forces issued summons for Sumud Karaja, 23, to report to Israeli intelligence in the Ofer military base near her village of Saffa, locals told Ma'an.

Her identity card was also confiscated, they added.

An Israeli military spokesman said it was not an Israeli army-related incident.

Karaja among 27 female and 250 male prisoners released from Israeli jail on Oct. 18 in exchange for Hamas' return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

She had served three years of a 20-year sentence on charges of stabbing an Israeli soldier at the military checkpoint in Qalandiya, near Ramallah.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Free at Last: Profiles of Courage


On 18 October 2011, the first 477 of an eventual 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured five years previously. Of the Palestinians who have or will be freed, 280 were serving life sentences and 27 were women. Most had been deprived of family visits for years, and had suffered repeated torture, sentences to solitary confinement and refused access to education. The release came as more than 6,000 Palestinian prisoners staged a hunger strike to protest the harsh conditions.

While the release is good news welcomed throughout the occupied territories, some families will still be separated. Of the first 477 prisoners released, 110 were returned to their homes in the West Bank and 203 were deported to Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and Syria, which agreed to take prisoners who Israel insisted, must not be allowed to return home. The rest (131) were freed in Gaza -- even if they were not originally from there.
The agreement is the highest “price” Israel has ever paid for a single soldier. Israel places a high value on Israeli life and freedom, and assigns little worth to Palestinians. Thus, captures and exchanges are the only way to win their release. Approximately 5,300 Palestinian prisoners remain in Israeli jails, waiting to be freed.

Here are the stories of just two of the released Palestinians:

Ayman Kafishah; jailed since April 1997:

On April 5, 1997, Ayman was arrested by Israeli security forces and immediately transported to Ha Shikmah Prison in Israel. According to testimony he later delivered to the UN Commission on Human Rights and publicized by B’tselem, an Israeli human rights agency, Ayman was then interrogated nonstop for 36 hours. Tactics used to coerce him to talk included:

  • Violent shaking.
  • Forced squatting and sitting in painful, contorted positions for prolonged periods.
  • Wrist cuffs tightened until blood flow was cut off.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Refusal of permission to use the toilet.
  • Threats to arrest and torture his family members.

Ayman was denied the right to consult with his lawyer for a full month, and was not allowed any family visits for the entire 14 years he was jailed. His daughter, Sarah, knew of her father only through photographs.

Although Ayman was freed in the prisoner exchange for Shalit, his forced separation from his wife and daughter continues. He was immediately exiled to the Gaza Strip, and his family was denied permission to travel there to see him from the West Bank. They have seen him only on TV, waving to the crowds in Gaza.

“I was awakened (on Oct. 18, 2011) to the sound of my mother calling me,” recalls Sarah Kafishah. “I got up and rushed towards my mother, who was sitting in front of the TV. My mother knelt on the ground and thanked God.”

Sarah and her mother said in a statement that they thank the Palestinian negotiators and the Egyptian mediators for making the exchange happen. They also called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to allow Ayman’s family to leave the West Bank to visit him in Gaza. A 14-year separation is long enough.

Obada Saeed Bilal; jailed since April 2002:

A native of Nablus in the West Bank, Obada is the son of Saeed Bilal. Obada was studying journalism at Najah University when he was seized, during the Israeli military campaign on the West Bank codenamed "Defensive Shield." He was charged with being a supporter military activities, It was just two weeks after his marriage to Nelly AlSafadi.

Obada was sentenced to 11 years in jail and subjected to intensive torture, along with a number of stays in solitary confinement -- one time longer than six months. Says Obada: “I endured many rounds of continuous interrogation, during which the physical and psychological torture was so harsh my body became exhausted and I lost consciousness many times.”
Obada had always struggled with poor eyesight, but he went totally blind by the time he was released from prison.

His family has paid a heavy price to the Israeli occupying force. Obada’s wife, Nelly and three brothers also served time in Israeli prisons. Nelly, who was released several months before Obada, was arrested at a roadblock while trying to enter Ramallah. Although Obada was later moved to the same prison in which she was being held, they were never allowed to be together. 

Although Obada was freed in the prisoner exchange for Shalit, he was immediately exiled to the Gaza Strip and his wife Nelly was denied permission to travel there to see him.

Both families are urging the international community and all human rights groups to put pressure on Israel to strop its daily integration to Palestinians on check points and crossing borders and it must immediately allow those families access through crossing borders. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

18 Palestinian MPs out of 21 in Israeli jails are administratively detained

[ 10/11/2011 - 12:34 PM ] 

The Palestinian centre for the defence of captives said that the Israeli occupation still holds 21 Palestinian lawmakers, 18 of them under administrative detention, without charge or trial.
Thamer Sabaena, a researcher in captives affairs, said that the number of detained lawmakers rose to 21 after the detention of MP Hasan Yousuf, 18 of them are affiliated with the Change and Reform Party.

Motion in UK Parliament calls for release of 164 Palestinian child detainees

Posted on: 10 Nov 2011 | Filed under:

On 18 October 2011, an Early Day Motion was tabled in the UK House of Commons in support of UNICEF's appeal to the Israeli government to release all 164 Palestinian child detainees from Israeli military detention. The motion was signed by 25 members of the House of Commons. The full statement of the motion is presented below:
“That this House welcomes the prisoner exchange which has led to the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and 477 Palestinian prisoners with a further 550 to be released in the next two months; notes, however, that the list of prisoners released in the first stage on 18 October 2011 does not include any children; further notes that according to figures released by the Israeli Prison Service and Defence of Children International-Palestine, at the end of September 2011 there were 164 Palestinian children (12 to 17 years) detained by Israel, including 35 between the ages of 12and 15 years; and that Israel's treatment of Palestinian child prisoners has raised serious concerns under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; and therefore calls on the Government and the international community to support the appeal by UNICEF for the Israeli government to release all Palestinian child detainees so that they can be reunited with their families.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gaza official: Israel prison hospital ward closure 'punishment'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The spokesman for the Gaza government's health ministry slammed Israel's closure of a hospital section in its Ramle jail on Saturday, stressing Israeli authorities' responsibility for the lives of Palestinians in Israeli jail.

Ashraf al-Qedra said the authorities were strangling detainees by closing the medical facility, and called on human rights organizations to protect ill prisoners from neglect.

On Thursday the Fatah information department said the prison administration closed the section and moved 22 sick prisoners who were being treated to four small rooms with no kitchens or other facilities. Israel's prison administration placed two detainees in isolation cells for demonstrating, they said.

A spokesman for Israel's prisons authority said he was not aware of the closure.

Al-Qedra urged the press to continue to cover the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israel after a deal between the government in Gaza and Israel to free 1,000 detainees over 2 months in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israel is punishing those detainees still in jail for the deal, he said.

Prison administration 'closes medical section'

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – The Israeli prison administration closed Thursday a section for sick detainees in Ramle prison hospital and isolated two representatives of the prisoners for demonstrating against the decision.

The Fatah information department said the prison administration closed the section and moved 22 sick prisoners who were being treated to four small rooms with no kitchens or other facilities.

The prison administration placed two detainees in isolation cells for demonstrating.

Researcher: 23 lawmakers in Israeli custody

AZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel holds 23 Palestinian lawmakers in its prisoners, a researcher in prisoners affairs said Wednesday.

Riyad al-Ashqar said the arrest of Hassan Yousef on Tuesday brought the total up to 23, in addition to two former ministers. Yousef spent six years in Israeli prison, and was released months ago before soldiers seized him again for belonging to Hamas.

Israeli authorities have also sentenced lawmaker Jamal Tirawi to 30 years in prison. All but three of the MPs have been placed in administrative detention, al-Ashqar says.

Freed prisoner hospitalized after release

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Freed prisoner Amal Jumaah, 41, has been transferred to hospital days after her release from Israeli prison, says her brother Jameel Jumaah.

Amal was hospitalized in Nablus for complications due to bleeding in her stomach. She suffers cancer of the uterus and other serious health issues complicated by her time in jail, he says.

Jameel says his sister's case was taken on by the office of the president. Her family is also asking officials to intervene and if possible send her to a hospital abroad.

The head of the prisoners society in Nablus, Imad Ishtawi, told Ma'an that he too was urging officials to examine options for helping all prisoners who require medical attention.

Amal belonged to Fatah's armed wing, and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. She served nine.

Occupation transfers Sheikh Hasan Yousef and his son to administrative detention

[ 08/11/2011 - 09:55 PM ] 

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation authorities on Tuesday morning transferred Sheikh Hasan Yousef and his son Owais to administrative detention for six months at Ofer prison near Ramallah.
The family of Sheikh Yousef said that the occupation authorities informed him and his son, who arrested eight days ago, that the Israeli occupation intelligence decided to transfer them to administrative detention for six months based on “secret evidence".
The family further said that Sheikh Youssef underwent a few rounds of interrogation on the pretext that he organised a number of activities for Hamas in Ramallah, threatening to kidnap occupation soldiers to exchange with Palestinian captives, supporting the resistance on the Shalit exchange deal and organising functions in support of the freed captives.

They further said that when they could not charge him and try him, they decided to transfer him to administrative detention, based on secret evidence, that neither Sheikh Yousef, nor his lawyer are allowed to see.

His son Owais, who only got married ten days before his arrest, was also transferred to administrative detention after dropping an indictment list prepared by the occupation police in which he was accused of participating in the legislative elections, only to discover that he was in detention at Negev desert prison at the time of elections.

Monday, November 7, 2011

UNICEF appeals for release of Palestinian child detainees


Posted on: 7 Nov 2011 | Filed under:

On 17 October 2011, UNICEF appealed to the Israeli Government to release all Palestinian children currently in Israeli military detention, following the announcement that they will release Palestinian prisoners as part of a prisoner swap deal.
As of 1 October, 164 Palestinians under 18 year of age were detained by Israeli authorities, most of them under charges of stone throwing. It is not clear whether the list of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners who are to be released in two stages includes children.
“UNICEF calls on the Israeli Government to release Palestinian child detainees so that they can be reunited with their families”, said Jean Gough, UNICEF Special Representative in the occupied Palestinian territory. “As stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the detention of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time”, she added.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

MEP De Rossa calls for release of Palestinian child detainees

Posted on: 6 Nov 2011 | Filed under:

17/10/2011 - Irish Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa, President of the European Parliament's Palestine Delegation (DPLC), has reiterated his call for the release of all 164 Palestinian child detainees held in Israeli jails. According to Israeli prison statistics, there are currently 164 children being held ranging in age from 12 to 17; Thirty-five of whom are younger than 15. Seventy-six of these children are serving sentences and the balance of 88 are being held in pre-trial detention. The children are mainly charged with stone throwing.

The positive potential of the prisoner swap currently underway could be greatly enhanced if these children were unconditionally released. For Israel this would not only bring her into compliance with International Law but would be a generous humanitarian gesture which would enhance her reputation globally and in the region.

Each year approximately 700 Palestinian children from the West Bank are prosecuted in Israeli military courts following arrest by the Israeli army. It is estimated that since the year 2000 over 7,500 Palestinian children have been detained and prosecuted. In addition there are credible reports of mistreat treatment during arrest and pre-trial detention.*

The detention and trial of children by military courts and their mistreatment is directly contrary to the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of children by an occupying power.

I am calling on the Member States of the EU and the EU High Representative Ms Cathy Ashton to raise this matter with the Israeli authorities in the context of the current contacts seeking to restart final status negotiations and I am copying this call to Prime Minister Netanyahu through the Israeli Ambassador to the EU in Brussels.

Proinsias De Rossa MEP
European Parliament
Brussels + 32.2. 284.7681
Dublin     +353.1.874.6109
Mobile +353 87 2544 644


Friday, November 4, 2011

Witnesses: Israeli forces detain teens in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained three people in Hebron at dawn on Friday, including two teenagers, locals said.

Eyewitnesses told Ma'an that soldiers raided a house in southern Hebron and detained Amjad Salhab, 13, and Izz al-Din Salhab 14.

In Yatta village, south of Hebron, forces also detained Ala al-Shamisti, 21, from his father's house early Friday, locals said. They told Ma'an the raid damaged furniture in the family home.

An Israeli army spokesman said forces conducted the raid with Israeli police, and confiscated weapons before detaining one man. There were no other detentions in Hebron overnight, he said.

Occupation authorities detain Ya’qub Abu Asab in Jerusalem

[ 04/11/2011 - 10:30 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authorities on Friday at dawn detained Ya'qub Abu Asab, an academic and a member of the national committee against exile.
Abu Asab, who is pursuing postgraduate research in the management of institutions, was detained by Israeli occupation on several previous occasions, spending a total of nine years on aggregate in Israeli occupation jails for being a leading Islamic activist.
The Israeli occupation authorities have detained a number of Islamic leaders over the past couple of weeks, after the first phase of the prisoner-exchange which involved the release of 477 Palestinian captives.

Occupation bars freed captives from travelling to perform pilgrimage

[ 04/11/2011 - 08:22 PM ]

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authorities blocked recently freed captives from the West Bank from crossing to Jordan on their way to Makkah to perform pilgrimage.
According to those freed captives, they were travelling on coaches towards the King Hussain bridge border crossing, when their coaches were stopped at a military roadblock before reaching Jericho. They were told they would not be allowed to travel except for the two women Sana' Shehada and Alya' al-Ja'bari, the others were turned back.
They further said that the soldiers manning the roadblock had a list of their names and called their names out and told them they were banned from travelling.
The freed captives were told on Wednesday morning by the Awqaf Ministry that they should go to Ramallah to get their passports and join the pilgrims in the last minute. The main event of the pilgrimage takes place on Saturday.

Humilation Against The Detainees Continues

Saturday October 29, 2011 13:33 by Mais Azza - IMEMC & Agencies
Palestinian detainees held by Israel at the Majiddo detention center, managed to leak a memo revealing that the violations against them have never stopped, adding that the Israeli Prisons Administration (IPA) is not abiding by vows it made to the detainees in order to end their hunger strike, the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) reported Saturday.
Image By Palestine-Info
Image By Palestine-Info
The detainees stated that the (IPA) is trying to degrade and humiliate them, and is still forcing several detainees into solitary confinement in addition to depriving them from their internationally guaranteed visitation rights.

Former political prisoner, Shaher Zayed, 23, resident of Al-Yamoun village, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, stated that although the detainees have stopped their hunger strike, that lasted for three weeks, after negotiating with the (IPA) and reaching an understanding, no actual implementation ever took place.

Zayed spent thirteen months in administrative detention in Israeli jails without any charges.

The detainees at Majiddo voiced an appeal to human rights organizations calling on them to act on obliging Israel to stop its violations.

Lopsided Prisoner Exchange

Wednesday October 26, 2011 19:18 by Doris Norrito - 1 of International Middle East Media Center Editorial Group

The number detained and imprisoned [Palestinians] fluctuates as more are added daily. The number of Palestinians jailed by Israel once topped 12,000 and currently stands at over 5,000.
While over a thousand Palestinian prisoners are exchanged for the return of one captured Israeli soldier, it is “business as usual” as Israeli forces captured more than a dozen Palestinians throughout the West Bank during that same week.

On Friday, October 21, in occupied Bil’in, six Palestinians were arrested; each day, more are added. The number detained and imprisoned fluctuates daily. The number of Palestinians jailed by Israel once topped 12,000 and currently stands at over 5,000.

Following six years in captivity, Gilad Shalit, was thin and pale, but nonetheless appeared in good health. Unlike the treatment Shalit received, Palestinians report different prison experiences.

Iyad Burnat was first arrested at the age of seventeen, during the first intifada. Twenty years have passed. Now, at 37, he is married and has four children. Today he is the head of the Bil’in Popular Committee and the Bil’in Friends of Freedom and Justice movement.

He recalls his first experience in prison. Soldiers, some dressed in civilian clothes, came to his house and grabbed him in the middle of the night, telling his father they only wanted to speak with him for five minutes. At the detention center, he was stripped of his clothes and left outside in the snow attached to a metal post with his hands cuffed above his head. He spent the next 20 days in solitary confinement in a small cell, hands fastened to the ceiling so he was forced to stand. At night, he was taken to a small cell crowded with 36 other prisoners. He remembers a hole in the roof where the cold winter rain and snow fell in. Every ten minutes soldiers banged on the door to keep prisoners awake. During the day, he was questioned, beaten, punched and kicked in attempts to persuade him to sign a confession of throwing stones at soldiers. They kept asking for the names of resistance members and, though he insisted he knew nothing about political affiliations, after 21 days of torture, he said he “cracked” and signed the paper. Two years later, he was released and served an additional year under house arrest.

The same week the prisoner exchange was taking place there were 47 separate Israeli invasions. Israeli militia forces abducted 12 Palestinians including two children. In addition, three Palestinian civilians, including a child, were abducted at checkpoints in the West Bank. And in Bil'in, Citizen Ashraf Abu Rahma was kidnapped while standing peacefully with his flag.” Common charges are for stone throwing (at tanks and soldiers in body shields), organizing demonstrations and for incitement. Many people are held without charges.

In 2005, villagers began non-violent demonstrations protesting the Wall and settlements built on their land. Kidnappings (aka arrests) and detentions of Bil’in residents began in earnest. Protesting, villagers say that the wall is not for security, but is for stealing their land to expand illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli military forces retaliate with violence, house raids and kidnappings.

Abed Khaled, Iyad’s second son, is ten. His childhood memories are those of armed Israeli soldiers who roam his village streets and raid his home at night, smashing things and keeping him and his brothers and sister from sleeping. The children live in constant fear of soldiers breaking in. Sleepless, the boy listens to the nightmare cries of his brothers and sister. Abed Khaled fears for his father’s safety when he is away from home and busy with Committee activities opposing occupation and confiscation of their farmland. Iyad says he seeks peace and a future of justice and freedom for his children.

The non-violent demonstrators persevere. And so do the arrests. Joined by internationals and Israeli sympathizers, increasingly more supporters risk being taken or forced to leave. Some people are detained for a short time; others remain in custody indefinitely, often without charge.

Shalit will return to his family, his home and community; his crime, that of being a soldier. Many returning Palestinian prisoners will not go home but, as part of the agreement, will be exiled to other countries or to Gaza where they have never lived and know no one. Their crimes vary, but underlying all is the “crime” of defending their homeland and resistance to colonial occupation.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Freed Palestinian prisoner recounts torture and mistreatment in Israeli jails

Mukhlis Burghal, a Palestinian prisoner who was freed in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, recalls, "[The] torture keeps changing: beatings, isolation, tear gas, suspension of family visits." And after spending over 24 years in Israeli prisons, Burghal looks towards the future.

After more than two decades in Israeli prisons, Burghal is getting used to things like cellular technology. "I want to be with my family, stay in my city, get to know it and get to know the people once again," Burghal says. (Photo: German Krimer)

Mukhlis Burghal grins like a child each time his mobile rings. He has become addicted to cellular technology since he discovered it just ten days ago.

“I´m in love with it; I have it on me everywhere I go”, Burghal, 49, confesses with a boyish smile that clashes with his white hair. His face is kind; his manners remarkably relaxed for a man who spent over 24 years in Israeli prisons. He discusses both his time in jail and his new-found freedom under the shade of lemon and tangerine trees behind his family home in Lod, not far from Tel Aviv.

On October 18, Burghal was released along with 476 Palestinians in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who as captured by Hamas more than five years ago. Burghal seems neither sad nor angry. He is far too interested in “absorbing,” as he puts it, everything: the new unfamiliar objects, like cell phones; the old things he has forgotten; and the memories that helped him survive beatings and mistreatment--people and places that are becoming alive once again.

“This is like being born again. It´s what I feel; I´m being reborn”, he says, as he glances at his five-year-old niece playing nearby.

During Burghal’s first free night, his house was full of people. Relatives, friends and neighbours had gathered to celebrate the day they had been waiting for since September 11th, 1987, when Israeli policemen arrested Burghal for throwing a grenade at a bus full of Israeli soldiers. Although the grenade did not go off and nobody died, a military court sentenced him to life imprisonment. 17 years later, his sentence was reduced to 40 years in prison.

But no one was thinking of those difficult times on the night Burghal was released.

“The most impressive and rejoicing part was seeing and feeling people. My family, all the citizens in my city, the Arab citizens, and many people from around here and from all over the country. I felt and saw happiness in the eyes of those people; this was what impressed me most and made me really happy,” he recalls, his eyes clouded by emotion.

Close to midnight, the house was still crowded, but Burghal and two of his brothers snuck away and went to their father´s grave. He died in 1991 and Burghal had never had the chance to say goodbye to him, to lay flowers on his tomb, or to or hug his mother. Burghal had not been allowed any calls, letters, or visits other than the regular 30-minute visit every fortnight (oin recent years, visits have been extended to 45 minutes).

Mukhlis had another “small dream” to achieve. In less than half an hour, the three men were barefoot, enjoying the sand of Jaffa beach. Above them, the stars and the moon projected a show of light and shadow, a show Mukhlis could only dream of for the last 24 years.

As he looks back, the grey-haired man who plays with his mobile with a shy smile does not speak with regret; nor does he make a stern statement in favor of the armed struggle or the “Palestinian revolution.”

“What will become of my life?” he wonders aloud. “The first thing I want is to spend a long time with my mother, I want to make her happy. I want to be with my family, stay in my city, get to know it and get to know the people once again. I want to reach a point where I can  feel normal in this new life. I want to visit my brothers who live abroad, too. And then, maybe in a year or two, I´ll plan something out. For the time being, I can´t make any plans. All in all, I don´t see myself too distant from the activities for the community”.

The only time Burghal’s youthful smile fades is when he remembers his friends who are still behind bars.

“The hardest thing is to know there´s not much I can do for them. After so many years of sharing hardships they become your family. Their families are my family and mine is theirs”, he says, as he looks at his brother, who visited him every month during the quarter of a century he spent in prison.

Over the last few days, his family has learned about Burghal’s suffering--the mistreatment and deprivation he had to endure inside the prison.

“The initial questioning is one of the most difficult moments, the hardest”, Burghal says, touching his head. “My head ended up with 14 stitches.”

Halfway through his jail time, he received another severe beating that resulted in 16 stitches in his head, a punctured lung, a broken rib, and a dislocated jaw.

“[The] torture keeps changing: beatings, isolation, tear gas, suspension of family visits," he recalls, with an emotional detachment that makes his story even harder to hear.

Transfers from one jail to another were another method of torture. Prisoners sometimes travel for up to ten hours, inside a metal box, with metal seats, with hands and feet cuffed together. They stop for two or three hours at each prison where, if they are lucky, guards may allow them to go to a bathroom.

“The food is thrown inside the truck in plastic bags,” he says. “I myself always avoided eating during those trips because all cuffed up and very uncomfortable, I ended up vomiting.”

But one of the most difficult mistreatment that Palestinian prisoners endure is shoddy--or no-- medical attention, given on the whim of the Israeli authorities. Burghal remembered three of his mates who died from asthma attacks and another one who caught AIDS after the prison dentist used an old needle.

“That shows how much they care for us,” Burghal says.

Burghal had to face three medical issues during his long stay in prison; one in the knee, another one in his back, and the third in his teeth. For the first two, after having all the pre-surgery check-ups, doctors decided that the operations were “not necessary.” Now, Burghal is planning to undergo surgery abroad.

His teeth, on the other hand, turned into a legal battle which left a bitter taste in his mouth: “I managed to get a doctor from outside but once the treatment started, they called it off. So now it´s not finished. I was told I had to make a new request for the treatment since they wanted to study my case once again.”

Burghal has a thousand stories to tell from his life in prison; in these 24 years the world has changed and so has he. He went in as a 25-year-old and, now, he is 49. He went in a young man with his whole life ahead of him and came out a veteran whose prison mates called “Uncle.”
But he would rather not give too much thought to the years that passed and all he missed. He wants to travel, enjoy his family, and feel normal again. At midlife, Mukhlis wants to be reborn.