Saturday, November 27

42 years in captivity..Nael Barghouti is still living the hope of freedom

Ramallah- The liberated prisoner “Iman Nafeh” is constantly keen to take pictures and video clips of the plot of land that her husband “Nael Barghouti” reclaimed and cultivated before his re-arrest, and sends them to a terrestrial channel in Gaza that transmits it to the prisoners in Beersheba “Eshel” prison, where he is being held.

In the few times he was allowed to visit him since his re-arrest in 2014, he asked her about all the trees that he planted with his own hands and could not pick their fruits. His wife tells Al Jazeera Net: “He asks me about each tree and how its fruits taste.”

After his release, al-Barghouti was keen to take care of his land and its cultivation, and he used to spend long hours on it, plowing and taking care of it, as his father used to do before his arrest.

Also through this channel, Al-Barghouti learned of the death of his brother, “Omar Al-Barghouti”, as a result of being infected with the “Covid-19” virus in March 2021, before his family could tell him, and he with whom he has a relationship that went beyond brotherhood and friendship, as he is his companion in resistance work and families. Which spanned from the 18th year until now, and he is entering his 42nd year of detention at the age of 65.

During these years, Barghouti lived only 32 months outside captivity, when he was released in 2011 as part of the Wafaa Al-Ahrar deal concluded by the Palestinian resistance in exchange for the release of the kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, and then re-arrested.

Nael Barghouti’s wife holds his picture during a previous demonstration calling for the release of prisoners (Al-Jazeera)

Life administrative detention

On the occasion of entering his 42nd year of detention, the Palestinian Prisoner Club issued a statement containing the most prominent stages of his life. In April 1978, he, his brother Omar and their cousin “Fakhri al-Barghouti” were accused of killing an Israeli officer north of Ramallah, burning an oil factory and blowing up a cafe in Jerusalem, and the three were sentenced to life imprisonment.

His brother Omar was released in 1985 as part of an exchange deal, and the occupation refused to include Barghouti’s name in it and in any other exchange deal or in the releases that took place in the framework of negotiations with Israel and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

After 34 years in detention and during the negotiation of a prisoner tabal deal between the resistance and Israel in exchange for the release of the kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, Hamas stipulated that his name be included, and he was actually released on October 18, 2011, as part of the Wafa Al-Ahrar exchange deal.

Immediately after his release, he married the editor, Iman Nafeh, and began his life in his village of Kober, which he spent reclaiming his land, completing his university education, and trying to make up for what he missed in prison.

However, the occupation did not give him much time, and he was one of the first editors of the Wafaa Al-Ahrar deal who was re-arrested in 2014, and was sentenced to 30 months in prison on charges of belonging to Hamas and running for office in its government, and against the background of a speech he made at Birzeit University about the resistance and its role.

After the expiry of this period, Israel refused to release him, and continued to detain him without charge or trial. Two months later, the family was surprised by the occupation’s decision to return him to his previous “life sentence and 18 years” without charge, and only said that it had a secret file of his.

This ruling is a precedent in the occupation courts, as Iman Nafeh says: “Now Nael is an administrative detainee for life.”

Direct targeting of the family

During the arrest of al-Barghouti, he went through difficult stages, from the death of his father in 2004, then his mother the following year, and recently the death of his eldest and only brother, “Omar al-Barghouti”, and his inability to say goodbye to him, whom he only met outside prison for 7 months. When he was released, Omar was in administrative detention. .

Iman says that the prisoner Nael is a solid and cohesive person in the most difficult times, but he could not hide his tears when I visited him months after his brother’s death, as he had a father and a teacher.

Nael Barghouti and his bride Iman NafehNael Barghouti and his bride Iman Nafeh (Al Jazeera)

And not only the death of his brother, the family suffered from constant targeting after the occupation killed his nephew “Saleh”, arrested the whole family, and demolished their house, as his nephew “Asim” is still detained in the same prison on charges of carrying out a shooting attack near Ramallah.

The occupation is procrastinating in deciding al-Barghouti’s case. A week ago, the Supreme Court of the occupation held a session to consider a petition submitted by al-Barghouti three years ago against the decision to reinstate his previous ruling, and to date no decision has been issued on it.

Despite all this pain, al-Barghouti holds in his heart a lot of hope for his release, as his wife says: “On every visit, he tells me he will release me soon,” which is what the family hopes in the event of a new exchange deal.

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