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.