Dreaming of Freedom: Palestine Child Prisoners Speak
Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 06 October 2016| 04 Muharram 1437
“A detention room, a big stick, the beating and the kicking” The violence that Ahmed Khalaf, (13 years), used to avoid seeing while watching action movies, was experienced for real with every single horrible detail when the Israeli forces arrested him while he was celebrating the end of school exams with his friend at a park in the West Bank. The Israeli court sentenced Khalaf to 6 months in prison with the charge of throwing stones at the IDF. Thus began a harsh life in prison.
Ahmed’s story was one of many stories gathered by the Malaysian activist “Norma Hashim” in the book “Dreaming of Freedom” which was recently published by the Saba Islamic Media, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Throughout the book, Hashim tries to focus on the suffering of Palestinian children detained in Israeli jails. The book includes 24 first hand interviews with previously arrested children covered in 178 pages.
It took the writer around one year to research the stories of the imprisoned children, and to translate them into English. Hashim got a helping hand from the journalist, Fayha Shalash, from the West Bank. And with the help of Yousef Aljamal from Gaza, this book was translated from Arabic into English. As reported to the Anadoulu Agency, in her book Hashim documents the punishments that Israel committed against detained children by putting them in solitary confinement. For instance, the story of Osama Subuh (13 years) who had been detained in solitary confinement after the IDF found a photograph of him throwing stones at an Israeli checkpoint.
In his interview, published in this book, Subuh stated that he was held in a small cell that had no window nor light, but an air conditioner freezing the place over. He added “even though they knew that I am suffering from asthma, they deliberately kept the air conditioner running all the time. As a result, I started feeling so bad I felt that I was losing my breath”. The child stressed that despite his young age, he had the will to reject what he described as inhumane treatment and went on a week long hunger strike. Subuh spent 6 months in prison, eager for freedom and to see his family.
Hashim also shows that all the interviewed children were severely beaten by the Israeli soldiers. Through her interviews, she stresses that the living conditions of the children detainees are degrading. One of the kids narrated his story inside the Israeli jails saying that “nothing is good there, no good food and no good sleep as the cell was inhabited by an army of insects. Besides, staying in the cell itself was torture.”
Moreover, Hashim highlights the suffering of children who were sentenced to “house arrest” after serving their sentences inside the Israeli jails. The child, Shady Alauar (16 years) narrated his story of the house arrest stating that “during my house arrest for 4 months, I experienced a harder type of sadness than the one I experienced in the real prison. I closed my eyes every day for hours trying to draw a beautiful picture of a beautiful tomorrow.”
According to Hashim, the book includes stories of five children who were sentenced to imprisonment for 15 years, on charges of throwing stones, however, there is no evidence to prove such convictions. Hashim described the causes of detaining the Palestinian children as “arbitrary”. She said that, “children were detained because they were accused of throwing stones although they do so to resist the occupation and to protect their land from being stolen”. Besides this book, in 2014, Hashim published another book entitled “Memoirs of prisoners” which has been translated into six different languages.
According to official Palestinian statistics, Israel detains 440 Palestinian children in its jails.
(This report was published first by Alanadoulu News Agency and was translated into English by the Palestine Chronicle. The book is available on Amazon.)