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“My family is living through hell:” Samer Issawi speaks from jail


I can’t kick the bad habit of biting my fingers when I’m stressed despite my constant attempts. My forefinger is swollen due to this habit and it really hurts; the cold weather makes it worse. The pain was intolerable this morning and it made me cry, but I quickly wiped my tears. I felt ashamed to think that our hero Samer Issawi suffers pains incomprehensible to the human mind.

However, he makes us all proud as he continues to fight injustice. His body has broken the limits of hunger. His hunger has broken the silence and will help defeat Israel’s injustice and oppression.

As the rain pounds continuously and the winds howl uncontrollably, Samer Issawi dominates my mind. I think back to my 24 hours of hunger strike on Monday, which caused me a terrible headache leaving me unable to focus on my studies for my final exams; I observe how very few people walk outside and how even fewer cars drive past my house. Then I think of Samer and I can’t but look to him with utter admiration and respect – proud of his shocking ability to refuse food for 168 days. My admiration for him made me give Samer’s dire situation priority over my studies and draw him a portrait.

Mum shot this picture of me right after I finished the drawing.

Mum shot this picture of me right after I finished the drawing.

How painful it is to imagine him now… to imagine how much he endures from Israel’s constant oppression, medical neglect, pain, hunger and cold. Personally, I can hardly leave my warm bed to go to the bathroom. I’m studying and typing away with trembling fingers while I lie under three heavy blankets. But Samer suffers in the cold. Mum takes very good care of me; she even brings me food to my bed so I don’t have to stop my studies and leave this warmth. But Samer suffers alone. Those around him aren’t there to ease his pain but to make him suffer more. He finds no one to comfort him. Instead, he is relentlessly harassed.

Nonetheless, while I’m cosy in bed, my thoughts are torn between my books and Samer Issawi. I can’t help but travel in my thoughts to Samer: lying in a cold, dirty, narrow solitary cell in Ramleh prison hospital, described often as a “slaughterhouse.” Starvation makes the hunger striker feel cold despite the weather.


Samer can barely stand on his feet and hardly turn his body on his borsh — a bed of metal that has a very thin mattress, which my father and friends who are ex-detainees often complained caused back-pains.

In winter, one of the most brutal practices that the Israeli Prison Service uses to oppress our prisoners is depriving them from their winter needs such as heavy blankets and warm clothes, often even depriving them of hot water. As a result, Samer’s sister Shireen worries about him more heavily. “The sky is snowing in Jerusalem,” Samer’s sister Shireen has said. “But unlike others, the happiness of seeing the layers of snow covering everything escapes me. When one has a little wound, its pain increases in cold weather. So imagine the situation of Samer who is hunger striking for 168 days and left without blankets or heavy clothes. Imagine him after he was physically attacked by the savage Israeli soldiers, causing him fractures in the rib cage. These are unbearable pains that one can hardly endure. But Samer lives and suffers these pains every moment, every day.”

He is shackled from his hands and feet to his bed or his wheelchair, and left with no means to defend himself. All this doesn’t deter the Israeli soldiers from repeatedly beating him up. Israel tried every inhumane way to put pressure on Samer Issawi to end his strike. He wasn’t the only target of this inhumanity: his family, his people in the village Issawiyeh, even sit-in tents installed in solidarity with him were targeted as well.

Israeli bulldozers recently demolished the house of Samer’s brother that was under construction and left it as rubble. But they couldn’t break his brother’s resilience. Instead he was thankful he didn’t meet the fate of other Palestinians who had their houses demolished while they were inside, burying them alive.


Moreover, Israeli forces get a sadistic pleasure in making the heart of Samer’s mother burn in worry over her sons and daughter. They arrested her son, Fares and her daughter Shireen several times and called them to the investigation centers on numerous occasions. Raising Samer’s voice to break the racist walls and reach beyond his cell to the hearts of humans of conscience was their only offense. The Israeli occupation forces attacked Samer’s house several times and couldn’t care less whether they raided the house at noon or after midnight. Moreover, Israel has cut the water supply to his family’s house. They enjoy making them live in panic day and night. Isn’t it painful enough for her to watch her son Samer dying every day?

Samer gets updates about his family through his lawyer. “With all the pressure that targets me and my family openly with no shame, Israel aims to force me to break my hunger strike,”  Samer has said. In a message delivered through his lawyer, Samer has commented powerfully on these latest inhumane practices Israel committed against his family.  “They reflect their feeling of defeat through enjoying punishing me and my family as if my arrest and my life being in danger weren’t enough,” Samer said.

After they shamelessly fabricated a play in which Israel played the victim’s role and accused me of being the attacker while my family and I were aggressively attacked openly in the Israeli racist court despite my critical health situation about a month ago,they hurried to demolish my brother’s house. Why now?” Samer asked.

“This demolition is a threat Israel tried to convey to me. That house was practically my future home in which I was planning to marry and establish my own family after my release from the 10-year imprisonment in Israeli jails, in the swap deal for [Israeli soldier Gilad] Shalit. Moreover, reacting to the failure of the Israeli intelligence in misleading public opinion and fooling them about the reasons for my re-arrest, they cut the water from my family’s house ignoring the hardships they suffer. That was another threat for me that aimed to pressure my soul to submit and surrender.

“All that wasn’t enough for the Israeli occupation which turned my family’s life into a living hell. They continue to provoke my family every now and then and call my sister Shireen and my brother Fares to interrogation centers and arrest them aiming to prevent them from delivering my message to the world and break my determination which will never weaken or shake.


“Where are the international human rights organizations when all that is happening? Israel continues to commit crimes against us and the world responds with silence. Are the Palestinian people excluded from international law? Or are we not humans, therefore these laws don’t apply to us?”

However, despite all the pains Samer Issawi suffers, he conveyed a message of gratitude for everyone who supports him, through his lawyer who has visited him and witnessed his terrible condition. Samer gained more hope and faith in humanity fromthe latest international hunger strike in solidarity with him, organized by Malaka Mohammed, in which about 3,000 people from different nationalities fasted for 24 hours. Moreover, hundreds of demonstrations were organized worldwide to call for his release. “I send my greetings to all who are fighting with me in this battle and who go out for this cause, I don’t consider them in solidarity, but they are warriors,” Samer said.

Let our voices rise higher, break through the racist walls and reach Samer to provide him with more strength to withstand the torment. Let us double our efforts to rescue his life. Let us make his words echo all over the word and chant after him, “freedom and dignity is more precious than food.” He shouldn’t be left alone in this fight against injustice.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Martin Luther King once said. Let King’s words inspire you to join Samer’s fight against Israel’s injustices. His death would be a threat to your security, your humanity, to your values of justice and human rights. We need our Palestinian legend Samer Issawi alive as he deserves to live in dignity and freedom.

11 responses

  1. skulz fontaine

    My Dear Shahd:
    Just a couple of points. The international community is complicit in Israel’s crimes against humanity. Not much more can be said about that other than, cowards all of them.
    I spent time on one of those metal “beds” and trust me, your body aches for a lifetime afterwards.
    Aw, those Israelis are ever so funny if not outright sadistic and insane.
    Lastly, you should post you work on RedBubble. It’s free and the RedBubble community is very accommodating.
    Your artistry is world class. I am dead serious about that.
    Stand strong my Sister and be brave.
    peace and respect,


    January 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    • Oh dear thanks a lot for this moving comment.. Where you ever detained in Israeli jails? Glad you like my art. Can you please send me the link to RedBubble? I’d like more people to read this article and know about Samer and act!


      January 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      • skulz fontaine

        Hi Shahd:
        The link to RedBubble is here –
        The link is their ‘about’ page and gives the necessaries for signing up. Best part is, it’s free. You can post and then have RB turn your work into mercantile manner of saleable stuff.
        I don’t care about the saleable aspect. I just care about letting people see my work.
        Also, you can link to tumblr from WordPress. There’s a toggle thingy somewhere on the tools page or something like that.
        I was never in an Israeli jail. I’m fairly certain that the Israelis would LOVE to get me in one of their hell holes. I’m not popular with Israelis and/or Jews in general. Why, I’m “officially” branded as auntySemitic. However, I have never uttered an antiSemitic remark about ANY Palestinian and given that the Palestinians are about the ONLY remaining Semitic people left on our shared Planet Earth, well, the auntySemitic labelling is ridiculous. I am staunchly antiZionista. Oh yes.
        My incarceration happened in these here United States of Amerika/Israel so, I guess by extension, I have been in an Israeli jail. The metal cots are the same in both hells. Three years. I’m not proud of that but, I carry on and in my body, the scars.
        Lastly –
        peace and my undying respect,


        January 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      • skulz fontaine

        Please forgive us my Dear Shahd as I forgot the really important link to offer you.
        Please to check out this link –
        The Brother running the PPP is named Dan. There’s contact info on the home page. I’m certain that he’d like to see your artistry. He’s posted some of what I do and that’s more than irrelevant.
        peace and respect,


        January 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm

  2. Dear Shahd, This is a painful reminder of the 10 men we lost during the hunger strikes in Ireland. During the Irish hunger strikes the worlds media reported on it and there was a lot of support gained world wide for the prisoners demands. Yet today the worlds media is silent, it falls upon us as world citizens to carry the news of Samer and all the hunger strikers to the world at large and the mass media should hang their heads in shame.

    What is even more shameful is the actions of the zionist entity towards the familys of the strikers. If the British had done the same here in Ireland you can be sure there would have been an international out cry, and mostly from the USA, who now fully support and fund the zionist entity. The Palestinian cause is a clear indication of how the world has degenerated into a morally defunct cespit of greed that has lost sight of the meaning of humanity.

    We can only hope that soon the world will see the zionists for what they are, pure evil, alas it may be too late to save the life of Samer Issawi, I pray it’s not.


    January 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm

  3. Pingback: 'My family is living through hell': Samer Issawi speaks from jail

  4. Muhammad Omair

    It always amazes me to see the fighting spirit of Palestinians. But at the same time the International Community leaves me disappointed. I am not so concerned about the Brits and US funding and supporting the Zionist regime, but the lack of support Palestine receives from Muslim Countries is an issue that worries me the most. I am from Pakistan and being a Nuclear Country that we are, its sad to see our Country being Governed by the Puppets of the West. And the Arab countries that are drowned in greed and wealth turn a blind eye towards the atrocities faced by Palestine and its People.

    Though one should never Despair from the mercy of Allah. The moment is not far when every single Muslim Country is United and they all will free Palestine and themselves from the Zionist regime. What Brother Samer is doing is beyond anyone’s Imagination and his reward will surely be with Allah. May Allah give him and his Family Patience and Protection. Ameen.


    January 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm

  5. Extremely saddened at the situation but also proud of the resilience of this hero incarcerated without charge .My prayers are with Samer and his family.
    I’m disappointed as to why not many people bothered to sign the petition created by Malaka M.(earlier petitions asking performers to boycott Israel were successful )


    January 14, 2013 at 9:41 am

  6. I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your content. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.


    February 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

  7. Pingback: Samer Issawi’s battle isn’t done yet as he still has to face Ofer military court « PALESTINE FROM MY EYES

  8. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It’s always helpful to read through articles from other authors and practice a little something from their sites.


    January 1, 2014 at 8:13 pm

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