Gaza (QNN) – The suffering of a Palestinian detainee at Israeli prisons doesn’t end the moment they get released. The Palestinian Iyad Abu Hashem, 42 years old, has been finally released from the Israeli jails after 22 years, more than half of his life, but another challenging phase of his life has just begun.
Abu Hashem was supposed to start a new journey where he enjoys his freedom and new life. Instead, he was released to search for an ID card and passport that would guarantee him a dignified life.
On February 12, 2019, Abu Hashem’s 22-year sentence ended. Just before he stepped out the prison’s gates, an Israeli police officer stopped Abu Hashem and told him, “you’re going back to jail.” It was a shock. Abu Hashem’s extended family prepared everything back home in Gaza to celebrate his freedom.
Abu Hashem was taken back to the Negev prison, but not to the cell where he was. This time, he was put in a solitary cell. “My excitement turned into deep sorrow. I was worried about my parents. They can’t hold any more shocks. They have been waiting for me for 22 years, but they were shocked by the news of extending my detention,” Abu Hashem told Quds News Network.
Friends of Abu Hashem in detention protested the Israeli authorities’ decision to extend his detention on the day he was supposed to be released. The Israeli authorities kept Abu Hashem in solitary confinement for five days, and he spent more nine days among his friends in the cell. He was released again after two weeks of extended detention.
A few days after his release, Abu Hashem participated in the weekly protest before the Red Cross headquarters in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners. “I couldn’t hold back my tears once I saw the pictures of Palestinian prisoners,” Abu Hashem said to Quds. “I used to be a prisoner who ate and spoke about my life with them. Now it’s my first time to stand in solidarity with them while they are still in jail.”
How the story began:
“On Thursday, February 13, 1997, I left my home in Rafah city. I was planning to attack an Israeli soldier. I stabbed an Israeli security officer and his injury was moderate. According to the Israeli medical report, he was half paralyzed due to the injury.
The Israeli occupation forces arrested Abu Hashem and beat him before he was transferred to Ashkelon detention center to be interrogated. He was interrogated for 70 days in a raw.
During the Interrogation period, he was subjected to several types of torture. Everything is allowed for the Israeli occupation. “It was a very difficult period that I can’t forget,” said Abu Hashem, and added that all the interrogation was about the reasons behind what I did, but they don’t know that “we, the Palestinian people in Gaza, were humiliated and provoked every day by the Israeli soldiers’ practices at the checkpoints between the cities and refugee camps. I was humiliated by these soldiers and this is why I planned to attack them.”
In need to an ID card:
Abu Hashem is still fighting to issue an ID card and a passport for his own to be able to travel to Qatar and meet his mother.
“My family fled to Qatar 45 years ago as emigrants. They don’t have a Palestinian ID card. They live on a temporary residence that gets renewed by the government every year,” Abu Hashem said.
The Palestinians who fled Palestine to other countries before the 1948 Nakbah were deprived to own ID cards or passports by the Israeli authorities. They only have a paper that proves their identity, but it is not recognized by the Israeli authorities. These Palestinians are not allowed to live in Gaza or the West Bank, and they get arrested if they enter the occupied territories.
In 1994, when Abu Hashem was 20 years old, he visited Gaza with his mother and stayed with his relatives to study at al-Azhar University in Gaza, but he didn’t complete his studies due to his detention.
After Abu Hashem was released, he felt he was trapped in Gaza. He can’t travel to Qatar to reunite with his family unless he gets an ID card and a passport, which is something almost impossible to get.
Abu Hashem hopes that any Palestinian institution will help him travel and reunite with his family in Qatar. “I didn’t see my sisters, brothers, and mother at all during my detention except for one time in the year 2000 when my mother traveled especially to visit me,” Abu Hashem said.