Samiha Afandi-om Raed, Deheisha Refugee Camp

Samiha Afandi-om Raed, Deheisha Refugee Camp

Samiha is the mother of Samer. He was imprisoned at the age of 21. Now 32 years old, she has only seen him only twice as visitation is allowed by the Israeli Military once every five years. The first time she was granted permission to see him, Samer was behind a glass barrier, and they spoke by phone, so there was no way to touch, not even his hand. When she saw him for the second time, as shown in the photographs she is holding, they were able to embrace for the first time in a decade. The images are very touching, particularly the one where Samer is kissing Samiha’s hand. The red wooden art objects hanging on the walls in her living room were made by Samer in prison. Samiha’s brother had just been released (the previous year) after 22 years in prison.

This situation of arrests and administrative detentions is commonplace in Deheisha and all over Occupied Palestine. They are the result of raids and clashes with the Israeli Military. It is mostly the young men who are incarcerated. Palestinians living in the West Bank are processed under military law rather than civil law, as are the Israelis who live in the West Bank. The legal rights of Palestinians are not the same.

A quote from Addameer, a Prisoner Support and and Human Rights Association:

“Visits to Palestinian prisoners and detainees are restricted to first degree relatives – children, spouses, parents, siblings and grandparents only, thus isolating the detainee from his or her social and professional environment. Men between the ages of 16 and 35 are typically prevented from visiting prisons inside Israel and receive the special entry permits only once a year if they are the brother of the detainee and biannually if they are the son of the detainee. Furthermore, in practice hundreds of families fail to receive permits at all, based on undisclosed “security grounds”. Israeli authorities never provide any justification for the rejection of a permit application apart from the standard phrase: “forbidden entry into Israel for security reasons”. In many cases only old and young relatives – children under the age of 16 who do not require permits – are able to visit relatives detained in Israel. As a result, thousands of Palestinian prisoners serve their entire sentences without receiving regular family visits.”

 All images © 2015 Iris Brito Stevens. All rights reserved.

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