After the Israeli solders arrested Mahmoud Mohammad Attoun, from Sur Baher town, near Jerusalem in 1992, the family started facing all sorts of harassments and repeated attacks.

Mahmoud was sentenced to one life term and 40 consecutive years after the Israeli security charged him of membership in a cell which killed an Israeli policeman in 1992.

Over the last four years, the family became a symbol of suffering, after the soldiers repeatedly broke into their home, conducted military searches, and continuously interrogated and harassed its members.

Mahmoud was a student of an Islamic College in Um al-Fahem, north of the country, but was arrested before he managed to continue his studies.

Mahmoud was also repeatedly arrested during the first Intifada which started in 1987, and was charged of burning Israeli busses, hurling stones at the settlers and other charges which were not proved against him. 

In 1992 Mahmoud joined the Islamic Bloc at the college, and was very active which enabled him to become its leader, and stood firm in order to achieve the academic rights of the students and defended them using all possible means.

During the same year, a cell which was known as “The Unity Cell”, which belongs to Hamas movement, planned and carried out its first operation and abducted and Israeli Lieutenant identified as Nissim Tulidan.

The group demanded Israel to release several detainees, including the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.

Yassin, the Wheelchair bound leader of Hamas was assassinated in March 22, 2004, after he was targeted by Israeli missiles as he was leaving a Gaza City mosque following dawn prayers.

Yassin was paralyzed as a teenager and was partially blinded. 

The cell also killed an Israeli policeman in al-Khdeira in 1993, and injured a colonel of the border guards’ police in the same year.

Mahmoud was leading the cell in most of its actions and operations against the army. 

“He was arrested after the soldiers ambushed him while he was coming back home in the evening, one Israeli police car stopped him while he was driving his car, only one policeman was there and he told him that he was speeding, at the moment dozens of soldiers were hiding between the trees, attacked his car and arrested him”, Ahmad, the brother of Mahmoud said.

Ahmad said that he spent 6 years in solitary confinement.

During his court session Mahmoud told the judges and the prosecution that he rejects to be prosecuted by those who occupied his land, and expelled its residents.

“Now am standing here, in the court of the occupation, which sentenced me to four life terms and additional 40 years, if there is any justice, the court should sentence the occupiers, the Israeli government and leaders for occupying out land and killing our people”, Mahmoud said after hearing his sentence at the court.

“They consider him a threat to the Israeli security even though he is behind bars, he leads the detainees and inspires them to stand up for their rights, he led several strikes and protests there against the bad living condition and treatment the detainee face”, Ahmad said.

Mahmoud attempted to escape from Asqalan prison after digging a tunnel under his cell, but was caught by the army.

“Mahmoud always loved his country, always wanted to defend it, he joined al-Qassam brigades, and was repeatedly imprisoned”, Um Mahmoud (the mother of Mahmoud) said.

“My son Ahmad spent more than seven years in Israeli prisons after the army charged him of membership in Hamas, his brother Eyad was arrested for the same reasons, and was imprisoned for four years”, the mother.

The home of Mohammad was closed under military order for two years after arresting Mahmoud, the father was arrested, and the army conducted continuous attacks against the family.   

The Father of Mohammad, abu Mohammad, said that in 1/8/1997, a huge military force attacked their home after midnight, and conducted military searches.

“I tried to stop them from destroying our furniture while searching the home, and then they hit my wife until she lost consciousness because she has a heart disease, and suffered bruises to several parts of her body”, abu Mohammad said.

“The soldiers did not allow us family to help her, and transfer her to a hospital, when my daughter tried to call a hospital they attacked her while she was pregnant which caused several complications”, the father added added.

“They will never leave us alone, but nobody accepts to be occupied, we will now bow in front of out occupiers, as long as there is occupation there will be resistance and fighters, we are suffering from the repeated attacked, and imprisonment, but we are willing to pay the price of our freedom”, um Mahmoud said.

Maisa abu Ghazala, PNN