The first time Ahmed Abu Sa\’ud met his son was in Israeli Prison. The elder\’s daughter, 30 year old Sawsan Al Abu Sa\’ud, told PNN, “My father became a prisoner in the year 1987. It was after midnight and I was awoken to violent beatings on the door. The Jews came in and took my father. I did not realize at the time that I would not see him for years; that 20 years would pass and he still would not come home.” Abu Sa\’ud is the father of five. His wife kept him alive in the hearts and minds of his children by reading them letters and showing them photos everyday.

“We lost so much. There were days on end of sadness, bitterness, feelings of deprivation.” Israeli forces arrested him before he saw his youngest son Ahmed. Twenty years later the two met when Ahmed also become a political prisoner.

Fellow political prisoners began calling a chant in welcome when he arrived, knowing that this would be the first time that the 20 year old would be with his father. Abu Sa\’ud described feeling a dual sensation of joy and sadness because the meeting was to take place in prison, and not at home. “I felt confused, but this overwhelming desire to see my boy pushed me to overcome my embarrassment and go to the prison director and ask if I could see my son. He said \’no, wait until morning.\’”

Abu Sa\’ud said, “The night was so long, but the morning came and I saw him a few meters away through several barriers. But when I was able to embrace him it was as if the earth of two villages of Palestine had come together, and all that we have sacrificed for our homeland.

“At that moment the overwhelming majority of prisoners were there for our meeting, everyone looking at us happily because we were happy, but we were sad too. And then the applause came and shouting like an earthquake when I was able to kiss my son. But shortly after we were taken to the investigator who let my son chose where to sleep and when he said next to my father I could not believe the happiness I felt.”

Abu Sa\’ud\’s eldest brother said, “We were always together, the kids, in school and life. We lost our father in 1970 and it was our responsibility to go to work. We left school and worked on the land, and then to Jordan and Syria, becoming involved in the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“After a period in 1976 he obtained Jordanian identification and was able to return to his homeland for a year, and then Jordan for work for one year, and then back to Beit Fourik to his original home in 1980. He was arrested by the occupation forces for a period of 20 months and after his release was prevented from traveling. He was arrested several more times and then in 1987 he was arrested for the last time.”

His brother continued to speak with PNN. “Our mother used to visit him in prison, although it brought her pain and suffering. She had to begin traveling in the early hours of the night and return from Nablus to Beit Fourik on foot. She had diabetes and hypertension. She died in 2004 after not being allowed to visit her son for five years due to the \’non-visitation restriction\’ and the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada. After all of this we feel optimistic about this prisoner exchange deal that Hamas is working on. He will be released, we are certain.”