Freed prisoner Israa Jaabiss served 8 years of her 11-year sentence (Al Jazeera)
Occupied Jerusalem – The burns of the liberated Jerusalemite prisoner Israa Ja'abis have not healed, but the eight years of imprisonment have deepened her pain, which was narrated in her first edition "Painful" and her second publication, which will soon see the light of day, "How can I be again?"
In addition to the two publications, the wounded editor has something to tell about October 11, 2015, when an accidental explosion of a gas pipe in her vehicle led to her arrest and trial for carrying out an arson bombing at the al-Za'ayem checkpoint between Jerusalem and Jericho, and then her actual 11 years in prison.
From the front of the checkpoint to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem, then to Ramle and Sharon prisons, and ending with Damon prison, from which she was liberated a few days ago, Jaabis etched in her memory the stages of pain and hope, which she said in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera Net that it helped her continue the path of harsh families.
Freed Jerusalemite prisoner Israa Jaabiss strives to return to her normal life (Al Jazeera)
- It's not easy to go back to the day of the accident, but tell us about the moments when the vehicle caught fire and started devouring your body?
From the horror of the scene I entered the subconscious phase as if I had lost consciousness and felt nothing anymore.
I raised my hands to the level of my face and my arms stiffened upwards without movement even after the soldiers removed me from my car too late, with burns on 65 percent of my body.
My body is burned from the hair to the diaphragm area from the front and the lower back from the back.
- You were taken to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem, do you remember how long you stayed there and what treatment you were given?
I don't remember how much time I spent there, but it was one of the most difficult stages in the journey of captivity, I didn't know the time, the days, or the day and night.
The medical staff cooperated with the guards, and I was treated like a terrorist during my treatment rather than as a wounded, they handcuffed my hands and feet to the bed, and I was medically neglected, so they gave me only ointments and a daily painkiller pill.
I learned from a Jewish nurse who was the only one who dealt with me humanely that the ointment used by the rest of the nursing staff was not suitable for my condition, because my burns vary between the first, second and third degree.
They used to put dry medical gauze on my skin instead of wet and when they removed it they would pull it out forcefully to exfoliate the burns and I was in a lot of pain and no one paid attention to my pain.
They didn't respect my privacy as a woman, in the first period only nurses would enter to peel my burns, but later they deliberately introduced only male nurses.
They put a mirror in my room to see my new distorted shape, but I tried to stay steady and maintain my psychological balance.
- What about the investigation, when and where did they interrogate you?
They interrogated me from the first day in the hospital, and four interrogators took turns in my room around the clock.
They didn't beat or physically abuse me, but the psychological torture was even harsher because they mocked me, burns, scars, and mutilations.
In the second batch of the prisoner exchange deal between the H. Mas movement and the Israeli occupation, freedom embraced at dawn on Sunday the Jerusalemite prisoners Israa Jaabis, Shorouq Dwayat, Aisha Al-Afghani, Fadwa Hamada and Nourhan Awad, in addition to the son of Jerusalem, the boy Omar Al-Shwaiki.
Read more: https://t.co/DHGnzcHN1n pic.twitter.com/QFpGTNLvdu
— Al Jazeera Net | Quds (@Aljazeeraquds) November 26, 2023
- From the hospital I was transferred to the Ramle prison clinic, a health facility of the Israel Prison Service, tell us about this notorious station among prisoners?
The Ramle prison clinic is indeed the "cemetery of the living" as prisoners call it, as the building is very old and its walls are damp, and everything in it increases the prisoner's illness.
I stayed there for a whole week, during which I was accompanied by the freed prisoner Alia Al-Abbasi, who took care of me as my mother, and because I was discharged from the hospital with hard burns, the risk of transmission of a virus or germ was the biggest concern for me, due to the lack of hygiene in the prison clinic.
- Hasharon Prison was your first stop among Palestinian prisoners, and it was where the routine life of families began, tell us about the beginning of the journey?
It must be said that the two prisoners, Alia al-Abbasi and Aisha al-Afghani, who were freed with me on the same day, had great credit to me, and they helped me with all my personal needs.
I started adjusting gradually, trying to rely on myself as much as I could, but it wasn't easy.
My hair burned on the day of the accident and then started growing again, but not like before, I remember that in 2017 I asked the prisoners to cut it so that I would not exhaust them in styling it daily because I was ashamed to ask for it.
The muscles in my body were not working normally, and my fingers were tilted back, which made it very difficult for me to take care of my personal needs, including eating and drinking.
- How do prisoners support each other in prisons?
The solidarity between us is great, as the healthy helps the sick and the wounded, and his support and right hand, and this is one of the noblest things that can be talked about in prisons.
The guards were making fun of me and my loss of my fingers. One of them told me one day that she was able to tidy up her hair and appearance and to eat sunflower "seeds" unlike me, so I waited until the medical gauze wrapped on my hand was removed and I bought from the prison canteen the same "button" and tried repeatedly until I succeeded in eating it in front of her, and I would not have succeeded without my insistence first and the support of my comrades in prison second.
The first moments of the release of the prisoner of Jerusalem, Israa Jaabis, and the embrace of her son Mutassim after 8 years of detention in the occupation prisons pic.twitter.com/vNZ1dQFPQI
— Al Jazeera Net | Quds (@Aljazeeraquds) November 26, 2023
- What bothered you most in prison?
For example, I never dared to go on hunger strike one day to get treatment for fear of collective repression of the prisoners in the department, and I endured all this pain in order to escape collective punishment.
But after the seventh of October, I deeply regretted that we were punished collectively and continuously without committing any guilt, as well as when the prisoners of the tunnel escaped when we were subjected to a series of punishments, including closing the section on us, keeping us inside the cells, thorough searches, denial of visits, and others.
So the years passed without me daring to go on strike, and the result was medical negligence and we were subjected to repression without guilt, which I feared would cause the prisoners.
- Several global electronic campaigns were launched in solidarity with you, did you receive their news and did you hope that this would move your file, especially after the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the appeal submitted to it to release you?
On the prison mail, I received messages from some foreign solidarity, and my sister used to tell me during the visits about messages of solidarity from all over the Arab world, specifically from Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan and Syria.
I thank all those who stood in solidarity and stood with me, even with a kind word from the peoples, but the civil society institutions who are required to act, not to speak, must redouble their work to help the prisoner movement better than it is now.
- What about prisoner exchange deals, did you hope to break free in one of them?
On the televisions and radios available in the cells, we have heard many times about the news of exchange deals that were not successful later, but no one outside the prison walls knows how much we live by the news of the deals and how much we relapse by not completing them.
Sometimes the news instilled so high hopes in us that we would start packing our clothes and things from the cell and emptying them in preparation for leaving.
In the deal under which I was freed, I could not put on the shoes I had prepared for the day of my release because the jailers had confiscated them from the beginning of the war, nor could I take anything from my needs, including a photo album in which I collected all my family memories within the captivity.
I do not deny that I was happy when the jailers called my name to be free, but at first glance I thought it was a search campaign and I was afraid because I had been hiding the fifth radio since the war began, and the jailers threatened me that if they found another device with me I would be fined and dragged to the solitary cell, but they called to tell me "recreation" (release).
I said on the day of my liberation that I feel let down, because there are those who deserve to be liberated from me, as my rule has 22 months left, while others have 22 years left and others for much more, and I hope that the deals will free these people specifically.
- In prisons, pets become a source of happiness for prisoners, tell us about your relationship with them?
She laughs for a moment and then says. If we see a cockroach for which we organize a party, and in our section there is a battalion of cats, one of whom we called "pepper", and this cat is gray and is the favorite of the prisoners, because it looks at us in a pathetic way, so we feed it, pamper it and take care of it.
"Zomorod" and "Sakha" are the names of two other cats wandering through the yard of Damon Prison among the prisoners.
I remember one day that I found an ant walking in a circular motion on the "fan", so I told my friend this ant is playing in amusement parks. In prison we create dialogue and smile out of nowhere.
We also see different birds, whether migratory or hawks and crows, and recently a crow visited us and named it after one of our harshest jailers.
- Influence Hammad was your youngest prisoner in prison and entered it at the age of 14, tell us about this child who was freed with you in the deal?
She brought the influence of childhood innocence and vitality to the prison and maintained her innocence, sense of humor and love of entertainment in her personality despite the harsh prison conditions.
She made toys and created events out of nothing, and I always got involved with her in everything she organized, as I was working as an activist and displaced child before my family.
One day influential decided to make a kite and did it from simple tools, and when we went out to the arena she told me that she wanted to launch it so I told her there is no sky or air in prison to fly your plane. She tried to influence but did not succeed.
I told her this plane will fly in your dreams, not in prison. I was touched and wrote a poem about that incident, I said at the beginning of it: A prison plane flew and didn't fly. And boyhood's dreams of prison were jealous.
- After you are freed, we know that you are prioritizing your treatment now, what urgent medical interventions does your condition require?
In prisons, I underwent 3 surgeries in 2018 and 2023, during which sagging in the eyelid of the right eye was repaired, adhesions in the armpit area were treated, and the fingers of the hand were separated from each other, but the fingers returned, and stuck again due to lack of follow-up, as well as the armpit operation needs to be repeated.
I am a female and every female likes to look beautiful, and deformities due to burns sometimes make me feel weak, in addition to other problems such as skin mass that blocks the airway from the nose, ear burns, and others.
All these surgeries and therapeutic procedures are urgent and I hope I can get them.
- We heard about your desire for treatment outside Palestine, why?
I don't want the occupation to follow me even on my medical journey, since I left the cell until now I know that they will not leave us alone, and they told me before my liberation when we ask you for interrogation you must come.
I want to go through my treatment journey comfortably, the pain that will result from the surgeries is enough for me, and I don't want any more psychological pain.
Source : Al Jazeera