Palestinian detainee Ammar az-Zaben, 27, who has been imprisoned by Israel for 15 years and sentenced to 37 life terms, managed to father a child after being able to “smuggle” his sperm that was carefully carried by his visiting wife to a local fertility center in Nablus. The newborn baby, Mohannad, is the first child ever to be born to a Palestinian political prisoner held by Israel as Israel denies Palestinian detainees the right to conjugal visits, and only grants this right to Israeli prisoners under certain conditions.
Ammar is currently held at the Israeli Hadarim prison; he was taken prisoner 15 years ago and was sentenced by Israel to 27 life terms.
He named his son Mohannad to commemorate Mohannad at-Taher who was assassinated during the so-called Defensive Shield military offensive carried out by the Israeli army in Nablus, and the rest of the occupied territories, in 2002.
In a letter sent from his prison cell in Hadarim, Ammar said that he and his wife started talking about In Vitro Fertilization in 2011 and decided to challenge the illegal Israeli policies that prevent married Palestinian detainees from having conjugal visits.
He said that the decision is a “cry for life”, as Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons became “forgotten numbers” subject to ongoing Israeli violations and abuse.
Ammar has two daughters; one of them was born just two and a half months after he was kidnapped by the army.
Dalal, the wife of Ammar, and the mother of the newborn Mohannad, said that her family and the family of her husband were very encouraged by the idea and supported her.
She also stated that two previous attempts of In Vitro Fertilization IVF have failed, including one time when she was pregnant for three months.
Former detainee, Fuad al-Khoffash, head of the Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies, said that Ammar is the first Palestinian detainee who manages to father a child while in detention, adding that several detainees tried but were not successful, especially when taking into consideration that the process of smuggling the sperm degrades it.
Al-Khoffash added that Israel must be prosecuted for its crimes against the Palestinian detainees, and for denying them the right to conjugal visits, especially due to the fact that some Israeli prisoners are allowed such arranged visits.
Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe’, called on the International Community and human rights groups to intervene in order to stop Israel’s violations against the detainees and their families.