Israeli repression brings with it bitter-sweet moments of joy – the moment the community can welcome home an activist after imprisonment. Today, Stop the Wall was able to welcome one of the Palestinian prisoners back home after 18 months of jail.
Monday morning, representatives of the Stop the Wall campaign met Wehbe (28 years old), at the village of Beit Rima, where he lives with his family. He had been released the day before after months in Israeli prison, where he was tortured by Israeli soldiers for continuous 50 days. Israeli prison guards routinely mistreat and torture Palestinian prisoners to extort confessions that will be construed to convict them for years of imprisonment. Wehbe’s steadfastness under torture saved him from worse. He was released earlier than his friend and others that continue to linger in Israeli jails.
As practically every Palestinian human rights defenders as well the Stop the Wall activists, who came to welcome Wehbe in his village, after having spent time in prison with him. Despite the painful memories of arrest and torture, it is the solidarity, the struggle and joy to see an activist released from prison, that made the encounter joyful.
Israel currently holds over six thousand Palestinians imprisoned, confined in jails by Israeli military courts, often even without ever knowing the accusation being put against them.
As the popular mobilization has become more forceful after Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and the city as Israel’s capital, the occupation forces have intensified repression. They have increased arrests and night raids in the villages and the brutal force being used against protests has increased the numer of injuries and killings.
Wehbe’s village of Beit Rima is located near Nabi Saleh, the village of the Tamimi family. 17 year old Ahed Tamimi is currently in prison after a video where she slapped a fully armoured Israeli soldier went viral. Her mother and other two women of the family have as well been arrested in aftermath of this. The villages in the area are regularly invaded by Israeli military during nighttime and last Saturday Israeli forces declared the entire village of Nabi Saleh a “closed military zone” to avoid protests in solidarity with Ahed and the other prisoners.
Palestinians in the West Bank are not only imprisoned in Israeli jails but ghettoized in their own lands. The way from Ramallah to Beit Rima is one of the few highways where Palestinians and settlers both are allowed to drive. However, it is the checkpoints, strategically located along the road to stop Palestinians and to bar them from moving in their land, that enforce the Israeli policy of “ghettoization”. Along the highway, settlements, that sometimes have a similar name to that of the Palestinian cities or villages on whose lands they are built, and their fences take year after year more Palestinien lands and complete the ghettoization of the Palestinian people amidst the settlements.