When his only daughter was born in April 1993, Jamal Taweel was in south Lebanon after he was exiled by Israeli forces for his membership in the Palestinian resistance group Hamas.
“He was exiled to south Lebanon along with hundreds of Hamas leaders five months before the birth of our daughter Bushra,” his wife, Montaha, 56, told Anadolu Agency.
Taweel was only allowed to return to the occupied West Bank to rejoin his family when his daughter was several months old.
“He saw her for the first time when she was 5 months old. However, he was arrested again before Bushra’s first birthday and held under administrative detention,” she said.
A former head of the Al-Bireh municipality, Taweel was detained by Israeli forces from outside his home that June 1. The following day, the Ofer military court issued an administrative detention order for him.
Jump ahead nearly three decades to last November, and the same court issued an administrative detention order for his grown-up daughter, now 28, and then renewed it this March.
In protest of his daughter’s administrative detention, Taweel has launched an open-ended hunger strike to demand her release.
Since he started his strike, Israeli authorities have been holding Taweel in isolation in Hasharon prison. He has been denied family visits.
“Is it fair to deny a family reunion just because of Israel’s administrative detention and without any charge?” asked his wife.
The policy of administrative detention allows Israeli authorities to extend the detention of a prisoner without charge or trial.
In 2011, Israeli forces raided Taweel’s family home and detained his daughter for the first time in front of her father. She was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
“That night was the hardest for Taweel,” his wife Montaha recalled. “He couldn’t take his eyes off his daughter as soldiers handcuffed her.”
Since that night until the present day, Bushra and her father have only been able to spend a handful of days together, as both have been kept for long periods in jail.
In 2014-2015, Bushra was incarcerated by Israeli forces. When she was released, her father was imprisoned and Israeli authorities refused to grant his daughter a permit to visit him in prison, citing security reasons.
When Taweel was released in 2017, his daughter was rearrested by Israeli forces, who gave her an eight-month administrative detention order.
When she was released, her father was again detained.
“Their last meeting was in December 2019, for only seven days,” Montaha recalled. “They cooperated to look after me on those days. I was indisposed.”
Last December, Israeli forces raided Taweel’s family home and arrested Bushra for a fourth time.
“Arrest me instead of my daughter. Let her go,” Montaha recalled her husband appealing to Israeli soldiers who came to arrest his daughter onlhy seven days after his release.
When Bushra heard of her father’s hunger strike in protest of her detention, she sent a letter of support for his struggle against the Israeli policy of administrative detention.
“It’s the first time that a father went on hunger strike demanding his daughter’s freedom. All of my prayers are with him,” she said in the letter.
“For many years, I’ve only seen my father for 68 days, because of the arrests that kept us apart,” she added in the letter.
There are around 5,300 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, including 520 administrative detainees, according to institutions concerned with prisoners’ affairs.
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