The dream of Samir Murtaja, a Palestinian prisoner now entering his seventeenth year in captivity, is to see his elderly mother – whom he hasn’t seen of even heard the voice for the past 16 years, since his arrest – especially that he was deprived from seeing his father until he died a year ago.
Murtaja, a resident of Gaza City, fears that his mother could die too before he sees her.
He wasn’t allowed to attend his father’s funeral when he died on 16th May of 2008. Murtaja has been in detention since 1993.
According to Abdel Nasser Ferwana, a researcher specialized in prisoners’ issues and a former prisoner himself, Murtaja hasn’t seen his 5 siblings either for 16 years, because of so-called “security reasons”. The exception was his brother Fadi: They met in prison, when Fadi got detained too. The last time Murtaja saw his wife was before the outbreak of the Aqsa Intifada (uprising).
Ferwana said that Murtaja, 39, whose family lives in the neighbourhood of Ascola, in the east of Gaza, had previously been arrested, on 18 February, 1990 then he was released in July 1991, having spent a period of 17 months in the Neqab desert prison. He got married after his release, then he got arrested again, one month only after marriage, on 29 October, 1993, on charges of resisting the occupation and being a member of Hamas. He was sentenced to 20 years – from which he served 16 years in full and has, today, started the 17th. As four years remain, his wife is still in touch with him and eagerly awaits his return.
Ferwana noted that Samir comes third in the order of his brothers whom he hasn’t met throughout his detention. Only prison cells and handcuffs gave him the opportunity to see his youngest brother, Fadi, 34, who was arrested by the Occupation Authorities in Bethlehem on 7th February 2003, on charges of belonging to the Fatah movement and resisting the Occupation. Fadi is married and has 2 children. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, having spent nearly 7 years of them, with 9 years remaining. He is now in the Nafha prison. He obtained the general secondary certificate from prison and is currently admitted to the Hebrew University as he is studying political science. He has completed 72 credit hours.