Gazans hold vigil in solidarity with Palestinian detainee about to give birth in Israeli jails

Besieged Gaza Strip (QNN)- People in the Gaza Strip have held on Wednesday a vigil in solidarity with Palestinian detainee in Israeli jails Anhar al-Deek who is due to give birth any moment in the coming few days, as she is in her ninth month.

Many Gazans have participated today in the vigil in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross office in Gaza, spreading the voice and condition of the 25-year-old al-Deek from Kafr Ni’ma town in Ramallah as she is due to give birth while she is still held inside the Israeli jails.

They were holding banners read: Freedom for the mother Anhar al-Deek and free all Palestinian prisoners and women held in Israeli jails.

Gazans participated in the vigil have urged the international community and human rights groups to immediately release Anhar and all the Palestinian mothers and women held in Israeli jails under harsh imprisonment conditions.

According to the Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and ex-Detainees’ Affairs, al-Deek needs proper medical care, as she suffers from bipolar depression.

Anhar said she can’t imagine giving birth to her baby inside her detention cell which is not suitable for humans, not only babies.

Anhar also expressed her fears about having her baby grow up in detention. Anhar also has another daughter called Julia.

“The prison is not prepared for giving birth and raising a child. The detention’s conditions are very bad. He will develop epilepsy as a result of the violent repressions. We, the adults, get scared. How would a child be born and raised inside detention?” Anhar al-Deek said to her lawyer.

The Commission demanded the Israeli prison administration to immediately release Anhar and all the female prisoners held in Israeli jails, stressing that the Israeli occupation government is fully responsible for their lives, especially the mothers.

The Israeli military court on Monday, however, rejected a request by the lawyer of Anhar to release her.

The family of Anhar said that they are facing a very hard time, knowing that they can do nothing to help their daughter.

The family added that all their attempts to pressure the Israelis towards allowing any of Anhar’s family members to be with her during labor have failed.

In a letter she wrote, Anhar urged every free and honourable person to take an action and press the Israeli occupation authorities to release her so that she can give birth outside the jails.

Anhar’s letter read:

“I miss Julia [her first daughter] so much. I wish I could hug her and hold her tight to my heart. The pain in my heart can’t be written down.
What should I do if I give birth away from you while having my hands handcuffed?”

“You know the Cesarean delivery, how would it be inside the prison, handcuffed, and alone? I am very tired. My pelvic is severely in pain and I have a strong pain in my leg as a result of sleeping on “al-Bursh” [the prison’s bed]. I have no idea how I will sleep on it after the surgery, and how I will take my first steps afterwards with the help of the Israeli jailor who holds my hand in disgust.”

“They will isolate me with my baby boy after delivery due to coronavirus. My heart aches for him. I have no idea how I will take care of him and protect him from the scary sounds they make. No matter how strong his mother is, she will feel weak in the face of their ill treatment of her and the other prisoners.”

“I ask every free and honourable person to do something, even with words, for the sake of this baby who is the responsibility of everyone who can help.”

Anhar is not the only mother who is held inside the Israeli jails and deprived of their families, children and an honorable life.

There are 40 Palestinian female prisoners held in Israeli jails, among them 11 mothers.

Palestinian women are usually held mainly in Hasharon and Damon prisons, both of these prisons are located outside the 1967 occupied territory, in direct contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an Occupying Power must detain residents of occupied territory in prisons inside the occupied territory.

In addition to the illegality of Israel’s practices under international law, the practical consequence of this system is that many prisoners have difficulty meeting with Palestinian defense counsel, and do not receive family visits as their attorneys and relatives are denied permits to visit on “security grounds”.

Moreover, both Hasharon and Damon prisons lack a gender-sensitive approach and, as such, women prisoners often suffer from harsh imprisonment conditions including medical negligence, denial of education, denial of family visits, including for mothers with young children, solitary confinement, overcrowded cells which are often filled with insects and dirt, and lack natural light.

Personal health and hygiene needs are rarely addressed by Israeli prisons authorities, even in cases involving the detention of pregnant women.

Moreover, the majority of Palestinian women prisoners are subjected to some form of psychological torture and ill-treatment throughout the process of their arrest and detention, including various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches, and sexually explicit harassment.

Upon arrest, women detainees are not informed where they are being taken and are rarely explained their rights during interrogation.

These techniques of torture and ill-treatment are used not only as means to intimidate Palestinian women detainees but also as tools to humiliate Palestinian women and coerce them into giving confessions. While Israel’s prison authorities and military forces recruit women soldiers to detain and accompany women prisoners during transfers, the female soldiers responsible for these procedures are no less violent towards Palestinian detainees than their male counterparts.

Since the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice in 2000, which focused in part on the special needs of women as criminal justice personnel, victims, offenders and prisoners, many studies have shown that women’s needs in prison deserve special attention from the United Nations, policy-makers, and practitioners. Among the set of needs specific to women prisoners, issues pertaining to health care require urgent attention, a right strategically denied by Israeli Prison Service (IPS).

A study conducted by Addameer in September 2008 revealed that approximately 38% of Palestinian female prisoners suffer from treatable diseases that go untreated.

The poor quality of food and lack of essential nutrients cause women detainees to suffer from weight loss, general weakness, anaemia and iron deficiency. They are also exposed to harsh treatment (such as routine practices of physical and psychological punishment and humiliation) from both male and female prison guards, who demonstrate little to no regard for their well-being or special needs, even when ill or pregnant.

(Source / 01.09.2021)

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