What Released Palestinian Woman Who Spent Eight Years in Prison Told Journalists

Israa Jaabis, 38, was among the Palestinian women released from Israeli prisons on Saturday, as part of a prisoner swap arrangement between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli authorities on Sunday said, no fewer than 39 Palestinian prisoners were released after Hamas agreed to free 13 Israelis and four Thai nationals in the latest stage of a four-day ceasefire.

Of the 13 Israelis released, six were women and seven were children and teenagers.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that among the Palestinian prisoners released from two Israeli prisons, six were women and 33 were minors.

Some of those released arrived at Al-Bireh municipality square in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where thousands of citizens were waiting for them, popular among them was Jaabis.

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She has been imprisoned since 2015 after her car broke down on a highway, near a checkpoint in the West Bank.

The Arab media reported that the car was damaged due to an engine problem, which caused it to catch fire, whereas Israel said the woman tried to carry out a bomb attack with the car.

Jaabis suffered burns during the incident, where her face was burnt.

She was then sentenced to 11 years in prison, of which she spent eight years before being released yesterday.

Last year, Jaabis wrote a request to the Israeli prison authorities to allow her to undergo surgery on her nose and face, a request that Israel rejected.

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A moment after being freed, Jaabis hugged her 15-year-old son Mua’tassim whom she left behind when he was eight years old.

While leaving the prison room alongside her 13-year-old son, she told journalists “I’m ashamed to talk about rejoicing when the whole of Palestine is wounded. They must release everyone,” she said.

However Israel has vowed to resume its campaign to destroy Hamas after a brief pause, despite growing international pressure for a longer break in a campaign that has so far killed almost 15,000 Palestinians, the majority of them women and children.

The weekend had begun with some optimism that the four-day break in hostilities could be extended. Israel had made a unilateral offer to extend the ceasefire in return for more hostage releases, proposing an extra day for every 10 people freed.

Inside Israel which also lost over a thousand loved ones, there was joy over the return of 13 hostages on Friday, including four children aged nine or younger who were seized by Hamas gunmen on 7 October, and endured 49 days in captivity. 

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