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Week 9: Karim Younis - Palestinian political prisoner

The fateful night of 6th January 1983, when Israeli soldiers raided their house in a brutal way, was the first that his relatives knew that Karim Younis was in any way involved with the resistance to Israel's military occupation. As a child he was known to be "a bit hyper" and he grew to be a nervous young man who finished high school in Nazareth before attending Ben Gurion University. He had ambitions and knew that education was important if he was to achieve them.

Born in December 1958 in that part of Palestine occupied ten years earlier by the nascent Israeli state, Karim Younis Fadil Younis was the son of a family known for its patriotism and love of freedom. His brother Ameen says that his family never expected Karim to dare to join the resistance, hence their surprise when the soldiers came and said they were looking for him. As it happens, Karim wasn't at home at the time of the raid; he was at university, where he was arrested the very next day. After undergoing torture in the interrogation centre, Karim was charged with killing soldiers and illegal settlers and sentenced to death. The sentence was changed to life imprisonment upon appeal.

According to Ameen, the heroic work done by Karim has created support and respect in his home village of Arara. Karim and the others were not regarded as criminals, but honest people who felt the need to resist against the occupation. Such community support boosted Karim's family at a difficult time and gave them a sense of pride in their son.

Currently detained in Ashkelon Prison, Karim enjoys high morale and derives his strength from the right to exist and the need for sacrifice. He is still confident that victory and his release will come today or tomorrow. He is optimistic that the factions who captured Gilad Shalit will stick to their positions and work to obtain the release of Palestinian prisoners in an exchange deal for the Israeli soldier.

Karim is a prisoner representative and tries to deal with others' concerns behind bars, spending his days reading documents and books. He has become a proficient writer, authoring two books on the nature of the relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinian people; one was titled "The Arab-Jewish conflict".

He has three brothers and two sisters who all look forward to his release as he's the eldest; his absence from the family home is distressing. Karim's mother cries when she thinks about him or meets one of his friends; at the time of weddings and every Eid. She hopes that she will see him at home before she dies and that she will be able to arrange his own wedding.

Family members visit Karim every two weeks, when he not only asks about each and every member of his own family but also the families of other prisoners, even after they are released. He asks his brothers and sisters to visit them too. "He experiences our family pain and joy," says Ameen, "even though he doesn't live with us."

Upon his release, Karim hopes that he will be able to live in the West Bank or Gaza Strip and work for the Palestinian Authority to help build the State of Palestine and serve the country for which he has sacrificed so much. In the meantime, having been in prison for 27 years he sits and waits for the miracle that will see him able to fulfil that dream.

Palestinian Prisoners
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