This is not fiction or a tale meant for amusement or to make the reader sad; it is one of the real-time stories of the suffering of the Palestinian people, living under unjust and illegal Israeli occupation of their land. Today, Tuesday January 22, 2008, Aisha, 3 years old, was “set free”, three years after she was born in detention.For this child who did not know any other world than behind bars, it was a sad day, a day filled with tears and screams as she was taken away from her detained mother and set free while her family, who are still total strangers to her, waited for her outside the prison gates.
Of course, it is good that this child is now free, after three years of not even knowing what color the skies are, and only knowing bars and jailors who know nothing but brutality and anger. Her only “fault” is that she is the only daughter of a Palestinian woman, a Palestinian political detainee, Itaf Oleyyan, who is imprisoned for “membership in a hostile party”.
The grandmother, Um Waleed, 70, sat in front of the prison and waited for her granddaughter, who is now separated from her mother, and her father who was kidnapped by the army just two days ago.
The old woman sat there, with clear marks of concern apparent on her face, she sat there in a rock placed by the army near the prison gate and said; “If they (the army) have just waited a couple of days before arresting my son, he would have seen his daughter, he could not even hold his daughter, he could not even be near her”.
She sat there, holding the hand of the lawyer of Oleyyan, who was appointed by an Israeli court to receive the child and hand her to her family.
A short while later, the gates opened and the child was there, at that moment the grandmother, with her tired and aged body, jumped and screamed “my love, my child, my granddaughter, come to me”, and started hugging and kissing the child.
As for Aisha, she hid behind the lawyer as she could not recognize her grandmother since she never met her or knew her, and cried loud “Mum, mum”.
The lawyer said that according to the Israeli law, children who accompany their detained parent should be released when they become three years old.
Aisha is not the only child who went through these conditions, five children were born behind bars before her, three of them were released immediately due to medical conditions, and one infant died directly after he was born.
At home, in Ramallah, the child could not do anything but ask about her mother, while her grandmother attempted to clam her dawn.
“I am so old, I have diabetes, I will take care of her but I wish that at least one of her parents would be freed”, the grandmother said, in my age, and my medical conditions, I can’t run along with a small child”.
Aisha started running in the house, and found a picture from the wedding of her mother and father, of course she could not recognize her dad as she never saw him before, but said “Mum, mum, where is my mother”.
Feature published in Arabic by the Palestinian Popular (Folk) Committees