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Men seized in Israeli raid on Jericho prison mark 9 years behind bars

March 14, 2015 3:01 P.M. (Updated: March 16, 2015 10:58 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Seven Palestinian men remain in Israeli detention nine years after they were illegally detained during an Israeli attack on a Palestinian prison in Jericho, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society said in a report released on Saturday.

The report highlighted the dismal prison conditions faced by Ahmad Saadat, secretary-general of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as Ahed Abu Ghalma, Hamdi Qaraan, Basel Asmar, Majdi al-Rimawi, Yasser Abu Turki, and 75-year-old Fuad Shubaki, who is the oldest Palestinian prisoner currently serving time in Israeli prison.

The group was arrested on Mar. 14, 2006 as part of the Israeli military operation "Bringing Home the Goods," which involved an attack on a prison run by the Palestinian Authority where the men were being held.

According to the PPS report, Abla Saadat, wife of Ahmad Saadat, said she has recently been banned by the Israeli authorities from visiting her husband, and most of his relatives have been prevented from visiting him since he was detained.

Hazem Shubaki, Fuad Shubaki's son, said that his 75-year-old father is suffering from difficult health conditions, which are deteriorating due to the living conditions in prison.

He said his family is awaiting their father's return, especially after their mother passed away four years ago without having had a chance to say goodbye to her husband.

Shubaki added that the Israeli authorities only allow him to visit his father once a year.

Wafaa Abu Ghalma has also been prevented from visiting her husband, Ahed, since 2009. She said that he suffers migraines, which only increases his ordeal in prison.

The prisoners were initially held in a PA prison in Jericho, under the supervision of British and American wardens, as part of a US-brokered agreement in April 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada.

Israel claimed that under Saadat's authority, the men carried out the 2001 assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi, in response to the Israeli assassination of PFLP Secretary-General Abu Ali Mustafa.

Fuad Shubaki, meanwhile, was suspected by Israel of having been responsible for organizing a shipment of weapons to Palestine from abroad that was intercepted in 2002.

In 2006, following the Palestinian elections that year, the newly formed Hamas government announced its intention to release the prisoners.

As a result, on Mar. 14, hundreds of Israeli troops descended on the Jericho prison in an operation named "Bringing Home the Goods," killing two PA security men and arresting 182 people from inside the prison. A third of the prison compound was subsequently demolished.

Saadat is serving a 30-year sentence, Shubaki a 20-year sentence, and Ahed Abu Ghalma was sentenced to life and five years in prison.

Ahmad Qaraan was sentenced to 100 years, Bassel Asmar to a lifetime and 20 years, Majdi al-Rimawi to a lifetime and 80 years, and Yasser Abu Turki to two lifetimes and 20 years of jail.

The group is among the approximately 5,500 Palestinians currently serving time in Israeli prisons.
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