Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Tribute to Israa

Basman Derawi | 03-03-2018


According to Addameer, there are 6,119 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Fifty-nine are females like Ahed Tamimi (and her mother, Nariman). Israa Ja'abis, now 32, is a mother of two and a kindergarten teacher. She was driving from Jericho to Jerusalem on October 10, 2015—on her way to move into a home she had rented to preserve her Jerusalemite residency permit. (Israel revokes Palestinians’ right to live in the city if they do not actively maintain a “center of life” there.) In the back seat were a variety of appliances and equipment, including a TV set and a canister of gas. When the gas hose in her car ignited, the canister blew up—burning 50 percent of her body.

The accident occurred 500 meters (a third of a mile) from an Israeli checkpoint. Instead of being treated for her grievous injuries, Israa was charged with attempting to blow up the soldiers and arrested. Denied access to proper care, parts of all 10 of her fingers were amputated. Meanwhile, the home of her brother, Mohammed, was demolished as further punishment.

It was two years before she was sentenced by a military court to 11 years in prison—a sentence affirmed on appeal just last month, despite the fact that no evidence was produced to prove ill intent.

I think of her often, and dedicate this poem to her.

In the courtroom,
she raises five stumps on each hand.
Her captors show no fingerprints,
no evidence of crime.

In her dark cell,
no one sees her deep scars,
her burned body,
her life in ashes.

Alone, she reaches out,
as if grasping with absent fingers
at justice, at freedom.


With special thanks for additional mentoring by Zeina Azzam.



Posted: March 3, 2018

Mentor: Kevin Hadduck

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