On December 09, 2011, I wrote about my friend, Walid Abu Rass, who was arrested by Israeli soldiers from his home at 1:30am in front of his wife and two young daughters. To read that story visit: http://bit.ly/walidaburass
I must thank all of you who took action based on the news of Walid’s arrest. Some of your letters and efforts have reached high levels in the Israeli executive and legislative bodies, but sadly, none have brought about his release, just yet, that is.
Walid is still being held under what Israel calls Administrative Detention, which means he is detained without charge and neither he, his family, nor his attorney are told why. His fear now is the same that it was when he went through this nightmare of Administrative Detention before, that the six month sentence will be extended for another six months. As Walid’s wife recently noted, “Administrative detention has a beginning but doesn’t have an end.” This is the routine Palestinians have become accustomed to. I refuse to accept all of this, his arrest and his possible sentence extension.
Last week, I met with Walid’s attorney and the prisoner’s support organization following up his case, Addameer ( http://www.addameer.org/ ). Walid appealed his six month sentence and lost, as most Palestinian prisoners do, given the military court system is part and parcel of the military occupation. He is being held in the Ofer Detention Center on the outskirts of Ramallah. This detention center is ill-equipped and overcrowded. Prisoners are complaining of many human rights abuses, but most critical right now is the lack of heat and blankets. Ramallah is facing one of its coldest winters in recent memory.
Yesterday, I visited Walid’s wife, Bayan, and two beautiful daughters, Mays, 13 years old, and Malak, 4 years old. His daughters are only slightly younger than my own. The burden that befalls mother in such situations is worthy of acknowledgement. Palestinian women remain the backbone of this society, albeit many times as silent heroes.
Mays explained to me how her last visit to the prison to visit her father went. She spoke in great detail. I asked if she could write it so I may distribute it for others to see how families are treated. She did. Below is Mays recollection of her last visit to see her dad. The are allowed a visit behind a glass wall every other Sunday.
I urge each and every one of you to continue demanding Walid’s release. There is no reason, whatsoever, for him to be detained. If Israel thinks otherwise, they should charge him. If they can’t, then let the man return to his wife and daughters now! And in the meantime, Israel must let the Red Cross deliver ample blankets to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners who they are detaining!
Given legal proceedings have been exhausted, there is a single person who can issue the order to release Walid:
Deputy Prime Minister &
Minister of Defence
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street
Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909
Pleading for common sense to prevail, for Mays and Malak’s sake,
NO PERMISSION FOR THE BLANKET!
“No permission for the blanket!” This sentence is the only sentence I heard from them.
Sunday is my day. My mom told us that we had permission to visit my dad. That night I did not sleep at all from my excitement. It has been one and a half months without seeing my dad. He was taken by the Israeli occupation with no reason! My dream is to know why he was taken.
I wake up really early that day and wear my best clothes. My sister was really exited and kept asking me how we are going to visit our dad. I was debating my answer because explaining the way is too complicated to tell such a young girl. We took some clothes and a blanket for my dad because it’s so cold over there. We also took some sandwiches for us in order to eat them while we wait.
We are now standing in front of the big door of the prison. We are WAITING, WAITING and WAITING. Nothing new is happening; every time we saw a couple of soldiers coming we jump up like crazy people thinking they are coming to open the door. Then we go back to the same position, WAITING, WAITING and WAITING. My sister is asking me “do we need more time? I am really bored.” I don’t have any answer for her.
Two hours pass, finally the huge door opens; at that moment, I thought all the hard part is gone and now the easy thing is coming: joy for just seeing my dad. We hold all the clothes and the blanket that we brought to give to my dad. But it is not the end yet; we got to the window where we can give the soldiers what we brought for the prisoners. I hold the clothes and stand in the row for hours. When the solider called me I ran to the window and put every single thing I have including the blanket. He told me, “NO PERMISSION FOR THE BLANKET.” I was shocked. I started asking WHY? He told me with anger, “NO PERMISSION FOR THE BLANKET!” I told him please, just this blanket. It’s cold inside. He said with blunt words: “NO PERMISSION FOR THE BLANKET!” I took everything and put them back inside my bag with a sad face. There is only one thing turning in my mind, I think how really precious this blanket is right now. It is the most precious thing for my dad.
Another huge door is opened and we enter to be checked now. They took our phones, wristwatches, and keys—everything that is related to the free life outside.
It is not the end yet. We go trough another small door in order to take off our shoes and jackets. Now we are told to pass through some big machine. My mom tries to tell the solider that children are not supposed to be exposed to this radiation machine. He says enter or leave. So we enter, all of us, including my baby sister.
After getting checked, they put us in a small room. We are around 50 people, children, women, and men. They closed the door and we are left together with just one small disgusting bathroom. Time is not moving. We are waiting in a room without a clock, no talking is allowed. A group of silent faces are just waiting and any sound of keys make us all stand up, thinking that it is the end of our wait. Hours are gone and we do not know the exact time. Finally, a solider came, but it was another one of their games to let us jump up again to think that it is time to enter. After few minutes, he went away. And here we are still WAITING, WAITING, WAITING.
Then, the door is open. Now every single person, young and old, are laughing running inside in order to use every single minute of the visit. The room is too small. I start looking around trying to find my dad, finally I saw him. He was smiling right at my face. My sister was dazzled, she starts kissing the glass between us and my dad. Between me and my dad are only a few centimeters. I can’t touch him or hug him. We pick up the phones that allow us to talk to him. There is no voice. The phones are still turned off. The stopwatch on the wall is at 00:00:00. Then the timer starts, we can start talking for 45 minutes, exactly, but this passes like seconds. I could not tell him everything I feel because every single thing we say is listened to by the soldiers. After 45 minutes, exactly, the phone goes silent again. Visiting time is over. The soldiers start pushing us outside of the room. Their words were, “go out, out!”
I still keep thinking about the blanket that I couldn’t give to my dad. I left, holding the blanket and looking back at the door of the prison. I was crying. My dad is going to sleep in the winter cold forever. All of you are sitting in your warm houses and my dad is locked up without a blanket.
Mays Abu Rass
February 5, 2012
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