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Palestine: Readjusting to life for freed youngest Palestinian girl prisoner

26th Apr 2016
Palestine: Readjusting to life for freed youngest Palestinian girl prisoner

By Kaamil Ahmed

 

HALHUL, Palestine (AA) – Dima al-Wawi, 12, kisses and declares her love for her mother in front of the cameras at their home in the occupied West Bank, but still adds, “Don’t speak.”

A day after she was released from an Israeli prison, where she had been the youngest female Palestinian prisoner, Dima is reserved about what she wants to share with the media and, like a typical pre-teen, ashamed by her mother’s willingness to talk about another young cellmate offering her a jacket to keep warm.

Dima’s drawn face gave an appearance of someone older than 12 in the pictures of her being returned to her family, but in her home in the southern town of Halhul on Monday, there were signs of her becoming more lively and childlike.

“When I saw her she looked drained and tired and I’m waiting for when she can return to her normal life,” says Dima’s mother Sabha al-Wawi. “I’ve been waiting a long time for my daughter to return home, and when she came back it was like the Eid,” the festival after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Dima pleaded guilty to attempting to stab an Israeli after she was stopped and arrested at the Karmei Tzur settlement, near her home, but her parents are adamant that her confession was coerced.

“We are farmers, we might have axes or knives [as farming tools], it doesn’t mean that we’re going to kill someone,” says Sabha.

Dima’s father claims the girl ended up saying she was planning an attack in the settlement due to the armed security guards’ unrelenting interrogation and cruel scare tactics.

“The security guard at the settlement stopped me, he had a gun and told me to lie on the ground and tied my hands with plastic [zip-ties]. He stood on my back and said he would shoot me,” says Dima.

“I don’t remember how much time I spent in the jail cell. I don’t remember how many detectives and policemen shouted at me, asking if I went to kill settlers,” says Dima. “They asked me are you Hamas or Fatah? I said nothing. After they kept repeating are you Hamas or Fatah? I [just] said Hamas.”

Her father Ismail and their lawyer have also publicly complained that, contrary to international law, they were not allowed to see Dima after she was arrested and during the interrogations that led to her four-and-a-half month sentence in February, which was eventually shortened because of her age.

“Arresting children is a shame on Israel. Investigating her without a lawyer or her family is illegal, especially because she is a child,” says Ismail. “I feel sorry for the Palestinian children who were arrested and are now in Israeli prisons. All human rights associations should help these children.”

[Photo: Deema al Wawi. Photo by Imemc]

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