One tent in the Ansar 3 detention camp, in the Negev, has been transformed into an operations room of sorts in which close associates to Sheikh Ahmad Haj Ali "Abu Ali" 66, are running his electoral campaign for the Nablus constituency in the upcoming PLC elections.
In the meantime, Abu Ali is making speeches over a mobile phone smuggled into the prison.
Detainee Wael Hashash from the Balata Refugee Camp east of Nablus, who sleeps in Abu Ali’s tent, says the availability of communications tools between the prisoners has facilitated contact with the outside, saying Abu Ali’s participation in television interviews have surpassed other candidates not in prison.
Israeli occupation forces arrested Sheikh Ali during a sweep of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists and gave him a four month administrative detention sentence, which will end one day before the elections are to take place on January 25.
His son Ali said his father has been arrested by Israel several times – 13 to be exact. He was also deported to Marj Zuhur in 1992.
One local Nablus television station broadcast a live interview with Sheikh Ali over the phone, which lasted for two hours in which citizens called in to express their support for him. Even his daughter was a part of the program as a guest in the studio.
Negev prisoners have recently developed means of communicating with the world outside their prison walls. They record press material on special chips, which are delivered to their family. These are then distributed to local television stations. Information is also disseminated over mobile phones.
Abu Ali already has a special status among the people. He has been a teacher in UNRWA schools for the past 40 years. This status is reflected in the fact that a support committee for him was formed unrelated to political affiliations.
Abu Ali was sure not to waste the two minutes Palestine Television granted to each PLC candidate. He made a call which was a recorded a speech he made inside the prison in which he focused on the issue of refugees and prisoners.
Hashash says Abu Ali receives dozens of phone calls each day from colleagues and friends who worked with him throughout the years, expressing their support.
Both Hamas and Fateh lists include prisoner including Marwan Barghouthi, Abu Ali Yatta, Jamal Abul Hayja and Sheikh Hasan Yousef.
Photographs from the prison show Abu Ali’s tent to be adorned with posters and pictures hardly different from the walls and city circles on the outside. According to public opinion polls conducted by the polls center headed by Khalil Shiqaqi, Sheikh Abu Ali is one of those expected to win from the Nablus constituency.