Hassan Salmah has spent many long years in Israeli jails, and his tale is like all too many others; suffering and grief are at the core. He has experienced all kinds of pain, in darkened rooms and solitary confinemen; the conditions are difficult to describe, but they lack the basic necessities for human life. Denial of health treatment and medicine are commonplace, as is the lack of family visits; bad food and repressive procedures continue around the clock.
Hassan Ali Nemir Salmah was born in 1958, in the town of Beitunia near Ramallah. His roots lie in the village of Salma, which was destroyed by the Israelis in 1967. After high school he enrolled at Birzeit University to study physics; one semester before his graduation, on the 8th August 1982, he was abducted by Israel.
He prepared to spend the rest of his life in prison, having undergone a long and hard period of interrogation during which he was subjected to the worst kinds of torture. He endured the pain and suffering, and challenged the warden with his will power. Hassan Salmah was sentenced to life imprisonment but did not panic; he put his trust in God.
Thus began his suffering, which is ongoing. He has been moved from one Israeli prison to another in the past 28 years, carrying with him treasured pictures of his parents and loved ones. He has participated in the various protests in jail, including hunger strikes. Prisoner Hassan, aka Abu Ali, is married and is the proud father of twins, Ali and Sana. They were raised by their mothe who was snatched by the Israelis when they were just twenty days old.
Although Sana is now married, her twin brother Ali is postponing his wedding in the hope that his father might be released and be able to attend the ceremony.
Abu Ali was denied visits from Sana for six years before she was allowed to see him from behind a glass panel; she could not speak and cried the whole time. She says that her father may have changed physically but his voice and ambition remain strong.
Abu Ali’s family has suffered due to the length of time that he has been in prison. They share the experience with many families of prisoners with long sentences. All are waiting impatiently for a deal on an exchange of prisoners for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.