“One of the well wishers told me to buy a toy with several shekels so
that my daughter would not cry when she approached me.” These are the
words of Mohammad Salama from the northwestern West Bank city of
Qalqilia. He was held under Administrative Detention, meaning without
charge or trial, in the Israeli Al Naqab (Negev) Prison for 22 months.
“I did not think that my daughter knew me. She was trying to stay away from me. I couldn't process this very easily, but I know it is because she came into her life while I was behind bars.”
Parents are strangers to their children who are born, or grow up, without knowing them. Salama had only been married for two months when Israeli forces arrested him. They never charged him with a crime, or afforded him a trial. But still his daughter was born and lived the beginning of her life having no idea who her father was. “She has grown without the tenderness of her father,” Salama told PNN.
ImageThe Palestinian Psychological Support Society in Gaza reports that 30 percent of Palestinian children need psychological counseling just for the fact of growing up with one or more of their parents in Israeli prisons. And many of the older children remember watching their parent be arrested. Other children need psychological care because they have seen their parents, or other family members and neighbors, be killed. They are often awoken in the middle of the night, when most raids and invasions take place, to the shouts and gun shots of soldiers. The Psychological Support Society says that Palestinian children grow up in a “terrifying atmosphere.”
A woman in the southern West Bank's Hebron said that her husband is also under Administrative Detention in Israeli Ofer Prison in a military installation in the central West Bank's Ramallah. She said that she had hoped that a recent visit with their daughter Rana would help her to understand who her father is. However, she said that the plate glass through which they visited did not offer the ability to clearly see him, and they were not allowed to touch hands.
She continued, “In the past when my husband was in Mejido Prison, and our daughter Rana was very small, she did not understand that her father was not the telephone.”