A fighter for freedom and justice from Palestine, Gaza.

My father’s memories from the day of his release in 1985 swap deal

Twenty-five years ago, my father’s eyes saw the sun after staying in the dark Israeli prison for 15 years. In 25th of May, 1985, my father regained his freedom. “I was sentenced for lifelong imprisonment and I thought that this prison, Nafha, would be my grave! Thank God I didn’t stay that long there, and I was got out to marry your mother and to bring you to this life,” my father told me smilingly. He considered the 15 years of misery as not that long period. Yes, it’s not that long if compared with the life sentence to which he was bound if the exchange deal of prisoners between the Palestinians and Israelis didn’t happened.

the story of the exchange deal all started when Ahmad Gibreel, the leader of P.F.L.P, captured three Israeli soldiers in revenge of thousands of Palestinian prisoners kidnapped by Israeli without any apparent reason. After a long process of negotiations, both sides struck a deal that Israel would release 1250 prisoners in return of the only three Israelis that Gibreel held captive. My father was included in the deal, and fortunately, he was set free.

It’s a funny thing that only three Israelis caused uproar in the Israeli public opinion and media at that time, but the thousands of Palestinian prisoners behind Israeli bars didn’t stir, except for the resistance that always forced Israel to meet some demands regarding the Palestinian prisoners, any serious effort that would lead to their release. The same thing is happening now with Gilad Shalit, who had been arrested by the Palestinian resistance. Palestinians are “terrorists” because they captured one Israeli soldier who was atop of his war machine, but Israelis are not, however, they have continued to incarcerate 8200 Palestinian prisoners in most terrible environment. I cannot understand this equation. Is Shalit’s life equal to their whole lives?

My father narrated that story with tears struggling to fall. He was staring at a picture stuck on the wall of his room. This picture is a painting that my father drew during his imprisonment.”I cannot forget the moment when the leader of the prison started calling off the names to be released,” he said.

Among the prisoners was Omar Al-qasem– the leader of D.F.L.P. in prisoners. The leader of the jail asked him to retail the list of the names loudly. He was so excited at the beginning hoping that his freedom would have to be restored. Every time he said a name, a scream of happiness convulsed the walls of prison. Suddenly, his face’s features started to change. He became reluctant to speak because he noticed that his name wasn’t among the names. He withdrew himself silently and went to his prison to go on with his resistance as a mountain. Sadly, he died in that horrible narrow oubliette after 20 years of resistance and glory.

The tears of happiness and sadness mixed together. The freed prisoners were not happy for regaining their freedom as much as they were bleak for leaving the other prisoners in that dirty place where the sun never steps inside. “We were as a big family sharing everything together. We all handled the same issue that we were united to fight for,” my father said. “Although I am free now, my soul always with my friends who are still suffering in there,” he continued.

I looked at my father with a feeling of proud imagining how he could bear staying in that tight prison. An area of 6 square meters had only one tiny window and contained eight prisoners at least. I bet that no one could stay in his room for a day, so how could all that huge number of prisoners bear staying for several years or even for the rest of their lives? I am sure although they are alive, they are dying.

11 responses

  1. A wonderful post! It's good to read from-within legend stories. Candles down the road, burning candles, living martyrs, the forgotten andprisoners of freedom, all are names Palestinian people call prisoners with; thesesnames reflect part of the bitter reality of those prisoners behind Israeli bars. My Allah save you all my beloved ones…


    May 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm

  2. A lot of ignorance on this earth. As long as humans do are not identified with life, there exists this kind of suffering. We're all son and daughter of life, that the only reality. Religions, governments led by fear and hunger for power that sustain poverty, which disgraces the entire human race. Receive my fraternal friendship.—————Beaucoup d'ignorance sur cette terre. Tant que les humains ne se seront pas identifié à la vie, il existera ce genre de souffrance. Nous sommes tous des fils et des filles de la vie, voilà la seule réalité. Les religions, les gouvernements conduit par la peur et la soif de pouvoir entretiennent cette misère, qui déshonore la race humaine toute entière. Reçois ma fraternelle amitié.


    May 27, 2010 at 10:19 am

  3. It's grace to see these supportive comments. Thank you Moh and Mr. Sosefo.Mr. Sofefo, It's honor to be your friend. Thank you for these words. I completly agree with you.


    May 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm

  4. Through this blood fog,Lovers see a path of beauty…(Rumi)Thank you Shahd!


    May 28, 2010 at 9:43 am

  5. Salam from Haifa dear Shahd. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad I discovered your blog and will be looking forward to read more.hugs,khulud


    May 30, 2010 at 12:17 am

  6. Thank you JoAnne And Khulud for these wonderfull comments.Khulud, I always see Haifa in my dreams. Every Palestinian poet was inspired with this holy city. I try to imagine it. They deprived us from seeing our land :( I can imagine how was your feeling while reading my writing because we have the same wound. Thank you. Actually your comment brought tears to my eyes. Please send لأaza regards to Haifa and all villages that were taken forcibly.


    May 30, 2010 at 1:14 am

  7. Dear Shahd,Rumi's Poem describes with grace what i think Human Beings still need to learn… In order to BE a REAL Human Being, we all have to learn to BE Love, to BE Peace, to Accept everyone else as manifestations of Love and Life & to ILLUMINATE everyone & everywhere our personal & shining LIGHT!I Was Deadi was deadi came alivei was tearsi became laughterall because of lovewhen it arrivedmy temporal lifefrom then onchanged to eternallove said to meyou are notcrazy enoughyou don'tfit this housei went andbecame crazycrazy enoughto be in chainslove saidyou are notintoxicated enoughyou don'tfit the groupi went andgot drunkdrunk enoughto overflowwith light-headednesslove saidyou are stilltoo cleverfilled withimagination and skepticismi went andbecame gullibleand in frightpulled awayfrom it alllove saidyou are a candleattracting everyonegathering every onearound youi am no morea candle spreading lighti gather no more crowdsand like smokei am all scattered nowlove saidyou are a teacheryou are a headand for everyoneyou are a leaderi am no morenot a teachernot a leaderjust a servantto your wisheslove saidyou already haveyour own wingsi will not give youmore feathersand then my heartpulled itself apartand filled to the brimwith a new lightoverflowed with fresh lifenow even the heavensare thankful thatbecause of lovei have becomethe giver of light ~Rumi~ translated by translated by Nader Khalili* * * * * * Thank for sharing your story with us <3Sending tons of Love, Light, Peace, Joy & Blessings to you, your family & every Human Being still suffering on EarthSara


    June 2, 2010 at 11:44 am

  8. Owesome Sara, these words made my body trempling. Thank you very much for sharing me this lovely poem. It's really words from heart to heart.I'd like to know you but there is no access to your blog.. Is there any way to stay in touch with each other?


    June 4, 2010 at 11:17 pm

  9. sabina

    Thank you very much, your drawings are really deep and beautiful… sabina


    April 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm

  10. argentina

    thank you , for share, is beautiful,


    February 8, 2013 at 7:49 am

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