Ziad Mahmoud Mohammed Ghunimat, 45, from Surif in Hebron is a true patriot who is currently serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison. He was arrested on the 27th July 1985 following a raid on his home during which Israeli forces surrounded the building and ordered him to come out and surrender. Ziad was twenty years old when he was arrested and has to date spent twenty five years of his life behind bars. He has managed to continue his education in prison, earning his secondary school certificate before enrolling at the Hebrew University’s Department of Political Science; he is working to complete his studies.
The arrest warrant accused Ziad Ghunimat of being a member of the Palestinian resistance; more specifically a military group in Surif which carried out an operation near the illegal Jewish settlement of Beit Shemesh which resulted in the death of two Israeli settlers. All of the members of the group who tried to escape through the desert to Syria were killed in an Israeli bombing raid after a spy revealed their whereabouts. Ziad Ghunimat was one of only four to survive the operation.
His father still remembers the days that his son spent with his family, although Ziad’s mother, Haja Amna, suffers from memory loss due to the shock and from crying so much. Her daughter Ahalm says: “My mother started to suffer from this illness a short while after Ziad was sent to prison. She always wonders where she’s going when it’s time to visit him and does not remember her son until she sees him. She wonders why she’s there at the prison.”
At 78 years old, Haj Abu Ziad Ghunimat hopes that he will be able to see his son as a free man one last time before he dies: “For more than twenty-five years, I have hoped to see him again. I hope he comes out of prison so he can get married and for me to be happy to see him; to see his poor mother, who lost her memory as a result of him being away from her.”
Like all prisoners’ families, Ziad Ghunimat’s family have called upon all Palestinian institutions to mobilise in order to secure the release of all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. They stress that their son and the others should be taken care of the organisations in the same way that he cared for his people and the freedom of the homeland.