Mahmoud Abu Kharabish

Mahmoud was born in the city of Jericho, Palestine, in early June 1965. He was a farmer, affiliated with the Fateh movement, and is the longest-held Palestinian prisoner from the Jericho area. He was seized by occupation forces at the age of 23 on 31 October 1988 for throwing Molotov cocktails at a settler bus in Jericho during the great popular Intifada. He was seized by the Zionist authorities and sentenced to life imprisonment. Currently detained in the occupation’s Ramon prison, he has been held behind bars for nearly 35 years.

During his detention, he has been repeatedly isolated in solitary confinement cells, leading him to conduct several hunger strikes against these abuses. Despite all of the harassment intended to isolate the prisoners from the outside world, Mahmoud Abu Kharabish did not give up and focused on educating himself during these years. He finished his high school studies inside the occupation prisons and completed his undergraduate studies at Al-Quds University by correspondence, despite the occupation’s attempts to bar Palestinian prisoners from continuing their education. He also managed to learn several languages behind bars, including English, Hebrew, Spanish and German.

During his time behind bars, Abu Kharabish has been transferred to several prisons, including Junaid, Ramle, Beersheba, Hadarim and Ashkelon prison, during which he has been subject to torture, mistreatment and poor conditions, all of which are committed against prisoners with the aim of forcing them to back down from their positions and coerce them away from participating politically in the Palestinian cause. Despite all of this, he is known for his cheerful personality and his laughter among his fellow Palestinian prisoners.

When he was seized by occupation forces, he was married and his daughter, Asma, was born only 40 days before his arrest. His family home was demolished the same year in an act of collective punishment against his family. While Mahmoud has remained behind bars, Asma finished her university studies, got married and had children. She is still waiting for the day that the sun of freedom will shine upon hr father, who she has been deprived of by the prisons and jailers for nearly 35 years.

In an interview, Asma said: “No matter how old I become, I still have that child inside me who was deprived of her father, who was forbiddent to share his life with his family…The occupation did not only deprive me of my father, but also of having a larger family. My father was seized when I was an infant no more than 40 days old. How I wished to have sisters and brothers to share in the love of our beautiful family…I am proud of my father. He is my hero, from whom I derive greater steadfastness, especially as he continues his steadfastness against the occupation authorities and their crimes. He has the right to freedom no matter how long he has spent behind occupation bars. As long as his will remains, his freedom is certain.”

Mahmoud was not only deprived of the embrace of his daughter Asma, but also of his connection to the palm trees of Jericho. For him, agriculture was much more than just a profession to mke his livelihood. He had a stor for every palm tree and every date he tasted. His name was among those of the veteran prisoners who were supposed to be released after the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, but the occupation authorities violated their promises to release the remaining prisoners, and Mahmoud and his brothers remain imprisoned until the present day.

Asma recalled that “They killed our joy and happiness after we prepared to celebrate, and my grandmother ululated outside our home waiting to receive him. We had prepared our home to receive well-wishers and distribute sweets.”

During the long years behind bars, he has suffered from multiple diseases, which have worsened due to systematic medical neglect and denial of medical treatment. He suffers from heart disease and joint problems with the bones of his foot, which has led to great pain that makes it difficult for him to walk. The transfers to multiple prisons and to solitary confinement cells have further injured his health, with Abu Kharabish taking up hunger strikes to achieve his just demands.



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