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Ex-prisoner explains self-immolation attempt

Sept. 21, 2012 4:18 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 27, 2012 11:20 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A former prisoner who tried to set herself on fire in Ramallah on Thursday says the Palestinian Authority is neglecting released detainees.

Abeer Odeh, 30, tried to self-immolate in Ramallah's Manara square on Thursday but was stopped by police, a Ma'an correspondent said. She was taken to a nearby police station.

Odeh was released from Israeli detention last year in a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

Speaking to Ma'an on Thursday evening, Odeh accused the PA ministries of health and prisoner affairs of failing to assist prisoners struggling with health problems and financial difficulties after their release. She said she tried to set herself on fire to draw attention to the plight of ex-detainees.

Odeh receives a salary from the PA but has had to cover the cost of several surgeries since her release, she said.

She says she was tortured during her nine years in Israeli detention and suffers colon infections, hernias, jaw erosion and spinal problems.

The former prisoner rejected statements made by some Palestinian officials that she was suffering from psychological problems, and considered the claims efforts to discredit her.

She said police in Ramallah mistreated her after her attempt to self-immolate.

Six of Odeh's brothers have spent time in Israeli jails, and one brother was killed by Israeli forces. Another brother is disabled after he was injured by Israeli soldiers.

Israeli forces arrested Odeh's mother in August, and she is now subject to movement restrictions by the Israeli military.

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