Outside the Red Cross building in Tulkarem every Tuesday morning, members of the Prisoners’ Families Club gather for their weekly protest at the detention of their sons. Here in the north of the
When asked what the charge might be, the reply is often ‘resisting the occupation’, said with the irony of those who have to live with it. At the Tuesday event, Malak and her friend Nadia did not speak of the charges, simply of the sentences: fourteen months for Malak's son, twenty years for Nadia's. Only half-joking, Malak asked me: ‘Can you end this occupation?’ to which Nadia added: ‘Put pressure on the British government!’
Estimates vary on the exact figure of Palestinian prisoners held now in Israeli's detention centres, but it is most often given as 10,000. Of these, and a concern to human rights organizations, 560 are currently held without charge or trial for up to six months at a time under the system of administrative detention. (These sentences can be – and often are - renewed several times).
Conditions in Israeli prisons are reportedly 'appalling'. After the collapse of talks in March to agree the prisoner exchange of the jailed Israeli corporal for Palestinian prisoners, there are now plans by the Israeli government to make these conditions worse – with the intention of convincing Hamas to release the corporal. Family visits are to be reduced, there will be fewer chances of studying, and access to TV, radio and newspapers is to be cut. .
On national Prisoners' day in April, families all over
They come regularly to film and report, apparently. It's not always easy to know the effects of media attention - but in this case, one that their mothers hope for is that on prison television screens their sons can see that they are not forgotten: as long as they still have any access to TV, that is.
One thing's for sure: Malak and Nadia will be back next Tuesday.