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Nablus City: Family left pleading in the night for their sons’ freedom

by Lydia

3 April 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Essam Amer Ghassal,16 Khaled Beal Harabi, 22, Yousef Beal Harabi, 23: Three more names to be added to the political prisoner list, two more mothers to carry framed pictures of their children to prisoner awareness demonstrations.

At 2 AM, on April 2nd the Israeli soldiers invaded an apartment block on An Najjah university road, Nablus city. They arrived at the homes of Essam, 16 and Khaled,22, friends who live just two floors apart. Both families were asked to step away from their door as the soldiers entered with force. Both families offered to open the doors for the soldiers, but the soldiers insisted on breaking the door down, preferring to use the force of their riffles to maximize damage. The shocked families were faced with 20 soldiers whose  riffles aimed head height when the doors was opened.

The members of Essam Amer Ghassal’s family were lined up in the living room with their hands raised above their heads, and Essam was picked out from the line and taken by the soldiers. His ankles were in shackles, his eyes were blindfolded and his wrists in handcuffs. The soldiers left the apartment with Essam and his laptop for further investigation. Layla, the mother of Essam was worried for her child, who was taken from his bed in his night clothes. She begged the commander to let her see her child one last time and to give him warm clothes. With determination Layla kept pleading with the words “please, he is my son, do you understand, he is my son. I want to see him, I want him to be warm.”

The commander finally gave into Layla’s requests, but insisted that only he would pass on the clothes. Layla was able to see her son from the balcony with a final lasting image of him blindfolded and being put into a military jeep. Essam was taken away from his school studies, his friends and his family who are struggling to get by. His father has health problems and is not able to work.  Later that day he was   admitted to a hospital due to complications with his diabetes brought on by the stress of the arrest.

Essam was first taken to Huwwara military camp. This is a common practice with those newly arrested. He was then moved on the evening of 2nd April to Patachtekfa interrogation center, near Jenin. This where they will be questioned for hours on end and have allegations forced at them. It is usual that the army ensures that the arrested are in a state of fatigue before questioning begins, keeping the victims from sleeping, keeping bright lights on at all hours of the day and not allowing them to wash or maintain their sanitation.

The family of Khaled Beal Harabi was awaken slightly later and they suffered the same ordeal. They were not allowed to open their own door, instead the soldiers opted to open it with force, again using the butt of the riffles instead of the doorbell. The members of the family were lined up in their living room, again with hands above their heads and the father and Khaled were taken outside. Khaled was soon arrested and taken straight to the interrogation center in Petach Tikva, Jenin. Khaled is a student at An Najah University, he had also just started a new job.

It is here also, in Petach Tikva interrogation center where his brother, Yousef, has been incarcerated for a week. Both Yousef and Khaled were released from jail eight months ago after Khaled served 2 years and Yousef 2.5 years. Just like Esam, they both had their laptops seized. Yousef recently had his interrogation extended by twelve days.

On visiting the families, Myassar Attyani was present, who is a member of the Popular Committee for Nablus, and a dedicated member of the Political Prisoner Club. Attyani expressed a serious concern regarding the influx of arrests and invasions of Nablus city which is area A. She explains “the invasions by the Zionist soldiers are all part of a strategic game to frighten peoples minds.”

Lydia is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).