A Hard Road for a Young Palestinian Mother

Foreign Policy Brief #118 | By: Aziza Taslaq | February 02, 2024
Featured Photo taken from: www.stopthewall.org

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In the heart of Bethlehem, where echoes of history resonate through the cobblestone streets, lived Salma, a 33-year-old mother devoted to her young daughter, Sara. Salma’s life, once painted with the hues of contentment, took a dark turn on April 17th, 2023 – a date etched in her family’s memory as Prisoner’s Day.

Salma, a proficient sales representative, found fulfillment working remotely for an Israeli company. Her warmth endeared her to colleagues, and she reveled in meeting monthly targets. However, enticed by a promising opportunity with a local Palestinian company, she decided to embrace the prospect of contributing to her homeland.

On that fateful day, as Salma navigated the Gosh Atsion checkpoint between Bethlehem and Hebron, tragedy struck. Israeli soldiers, without warning, fired upon her, leading to her immediate arrest. The news reached her father, Ismael, who, unaware of the severity of her injuries, grappled with the shocking revelation.

Ismael, in anguish, shared the grim truth – Salma had been shot in the belly, the bullet piercing her backbone, rendering her paralyzed. Held in Shaary Tsedek hospital, she underwent a surgery stripping her of a kidney and enduring a 50% liver resection. The subsequent transfer to Al-Ramlah prison, known for housing critical medical cases, intensified the nightmare.

Incarcerated for a month, Salma faced a series of charges, including the absurd allegations of possessing a knife and attempting stabbing. Ismael, along with Salma’s mother and young daughter, was denied the basic right to visit or communicate with her during this harrowing period.

Sara, blissfully unaware of her mother’s plight, believed her to be in the hospital, grappling with an illness. Little did she know about the grim reality that had befallen her mother.

Salma’s time in prison was marked by indignity, a lack of privacy, and a struggle against her newfound disability. Her father, haunted by fear, spoke of the challenges his favorite daughter now faced – a life confined to a wheelchair, dependent on others for even the simplest daily tasks.

The Occupation Court’s relentless pursuit of charges only deepened the wounds, casting a shadow over Salma’s already fraught existence. The emotional turmoil inflicted upon her family, unable to provide comfort or support, added to the tragedy.

However, amidst the darkness emerged a glimmer of hope. The Prisoner Exchange Deal between Hamas and Israel, sealed on October 7th, 2023, brought a twist in Salma’s fate. Her name, a part of the negotiated exchange, led to her liberation on November 24th, 2023.

Salma’s release, while a moment of triumph, underscored the fragility of life in a conflict-ridden region. The tale of this Palestinian mother, her resilience, and the silent suffering of countless others echo the broader narrative of a people caught in the crossfire of geopolitical struggles.

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