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Abla Sa’adat: A husband imprisoned

 

 

In August 2001, Israeli forces assassinated Abu Ali Mustafa, the
head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In
retaliation, the PFLP killed the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Ze’evi.
Abla Sa’adat’s husband, Ahmad Sa’adat, succeeded Abu Ali Mustafa as the
Secretary-General of the PFLP. In 2002, during the Israeli invasion of
Ramallah, Mr. Sa’adat and four of his colleagues were arrested by the
Palestinian Authority and charged with organizing the assassination of the
Israeli minister. For four years, Sa’adat was imprisoned in Jericho, with
British and American wardens monitoring his incarceration in accordance with an
agreement between the United States and Israel.

 

On 14 March 2006, Israeli troops surrounded the prison. In an
effort to capture Sa’adat and his colleagues, they destroyed significant parts
of the prison in a 12-hour siege involving 1,000 troops. Abla Sa’adat, Ahmad
Sa’adat’s wife, says of this incident: "The families of the detainees were
waiting, worried that any minute the prison might explode and those trapped in
it would be harmed, or that the building would be destroyed and the detainees
inside would be hurt. It was a very difficult time for us." At the time,
her daughters were in university, her oldest son was in Jordan for his
education and the younger son was at school, but when the family members found
out they were all shocked. They spoke with their father on the phone, but once
mobile reception was lost, they became increasingly worried. Abla Sa’adat says
the fear for her husband affected her in a very physical way, even for a year
afterwards. "Nonetheless," she said, "I had to show strength
towards my children, and my husband when I spoke with him in the Israeli
jail."

 

Sa’adat and his fellow party members were brought to Al Jalameh
detention center. During the investigation of the assassination of the Tourism
Minister, Mr. Sa’adat, represented by PCHR before the Israeli High Court,
"refused to cooperate with the Israeli court, considering it an entity of
the occupation, which may be resisted." Sa’adat’s wife says he was not
involved in the assassination, but he and his four colleagues were all charged
with being directly or indirectly involved. "The trial went on for two years,
but Ahmad only spoke with his lawyer, not with the court, because he did not
believe in the court." She says about the arbitrary length of prison
sentences: "A young man from ‘Shafa Amro’, this is a city in 1948 lands,
who studies at Birzeit University – he was sentenced to only 15 years for
planning to blow himself up with Islamic Jihad. Ahmad Sa’adat on the other hand
was sentenced to 30 years for no reason."

 

Sa’adat was moved between seven different prisons in Israel. The
reason he was moved so frequently, says Abla Sa’adat "Is that the Israeli
Prisons Administration have a policy that they do not keep a prisoner in one
prison for more than six months per year, in order to achieve two goals; so
that he cannot establish good relations with other prisoner, and also to create
an instability in his psyche, and for his family too. He had prior experience
inside Israeli prisons, but the psychological and physical pressure is
humiliating, no matter how much experience one has."

 

From the beginning of his incarceration, Sa’adat was held in
solitary confinement, in an isolated section of the prison – a real problem for
someone used to being politically active and forming a new generation as a
leader in prison. "To imagine how many things he missed because he was
unable to communicate with the outside world: the people that deceased during
his imprisonment, the children that have grown up that he didn’t see growing
up.His mother died while he was in prison. And a very close friend and comrade
of his – Maha Nassar, who was also a political leader in the PFLP – died a year
ago. When he found out he went through a state of shock. His health has
deteriorated in prison, he has lost weight and now has high blood
pressure." Sa’adat is not allowed to see lawyers or meet with Knesset
members. He does not receive the letters sent to him from abroad – or those
from his family. Sometimes he sends letters, but it takes around three months
for them to arrive, says his wife.

 

"It says in the Israeli laws that daughters of prisoners are
allowed to visit their parents twice per year, even if they do not have
Jerusalem IDs – but Ahmad’s daughters have not been allowed to see him for a
year and a half because they are considered ‘security threats’ by the Israeli
army. Ahmad cannot receive visitors or own books or clothes, and the only way
of communication is through a lawyer. Even the lawyer is put through inspection
and has to take off his clothes during the search."

 

Mrs. Sa’adat is saddened by the effects of her husband’s imprisonment
on her family."Ahmad was arrested when his sons and daughters were young
children, and now, after 8 years, they have grown up without their father. It
is really a very hard life and different from any other place in the world
outside Palestine. But our only hope is ending the occupation and it is the
source of our strength and faith in life."

 

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