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Ex-Palestinian female prisoner recalls Eid festivity inside prison

May 23, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Israeli border guards detain a Palestinian protester during clashes following a demonstration by students from Birzeit University near Ramallah against the incarceration in Israeli jails of Palestinian university students, on 10 March, 2015 [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images]

Palestinian female prisoners lodged in Israeli prisons are eagerly awaiting the day of Eid al-Fitr to hear the voices of their dear ones.

Barred from meeting their relatives and lawyers over the past three months since the outbreak of COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic, a Palestinian radio station in its voice of prisoners’ program will broadcast voice messages of family members of prisoners.

According to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS), 38 female prisoners are lodged in Damon Prison. One-third of them are mothers.

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Former prisoners recall that this radio broadcast on the afternoon of every Eid day creates an emotional scene inside the prisons. Haifa Abu-Sbeih, 42, who spent a one-and-half year in the prison recalls that the broadcast brings comfort as well as anger.

Nisreen Abu-Kmail, 46, from Gaza is celebrating Eid behind bars since October 2015, since her arrest. Over the past six years, nobody from her family has been allowed to visit her. Her only connection with the family is this radio broadcast on the Eid day.

Haifa, who spent last Eid day with Nisreen remembers that when she heard the voice of her youngest child Ahmed on the airwaves, she looked very happy but also inconsolable.

“Her eyes were shut, relishing the moment with joy but also loaded with anguish, pain, and longing,” said Haifa.

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Speaking to Anadolu Agency, she said although the Eid inside a prison lacks festivity and gaiety, prisoners try their best to celebrate it with vivacity laced with sombreness.

Haifa recalls that despite restrictions, prisoners steal moments of happiness on this day to cheer their souls.

As part of increased restrictions, prisoners in Israel’s Al-Damon prison are not allowed to offer Eid prayers since last year. But prisoners use the moment to assemble in the courtyard when they are taken out for counting to greet each other.