Palestinian female prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons are eagerly awaiting the day of Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan Bayram) to hear the voices of their dear ones.
Barred from meeting their relatives and lawyers over the past three months since the outbreak of COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic, a Palestinian radio station in its voice of prisoners’ program will broadcast voice messages of family members of prisoners.
According to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS), 38 female prisoners are lodged in Damon Prison. One-third of them are mothers.
Former prisoners recall that this radio broadcast on the afternoon of every Eid day creates an emotional scene inside the prisons.
Haifa Abu-Sbeih, 42, who spent 1 1/2 years in the prison, recalls that the broadcast brings comfort as well as anger to the inmates.
Nisreen Abu-Kmail, 46, from Gaza has been celebrating Eid behind bars since October 2015, since her arrest. Over the past six years, nobody from her family has been allowed to visit her. Her only connection with the family is this radio broadcast on the Eid day.
Haifa, who spent last Eid day with Nisreen, remembers that when she heard the voice of her youngest child Ahmed on the airwaves, she looked very happy but also inconsolable. "Her eyes were shut, relishing the moment with joy but also loaded with anguish, pain, and longing,” said Haifa.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, she said although Eid inside a prison lacks festivity and gaiety, prisoners try their best to celebrate it with vivacity laced with sombreness.
Haifa recalls that despite restrictions, prisoners steal moments of happiness on this day to cheer their souls.
As part of increased restrictions, prisoners in Israel’s Al-Damon prison are not allowed to offer Eid prayers since last year. But prisoners use the moment to assemble in the courtyard when they are taken out for counting to greet each other.
"The prisoners exchange greetings and recall festivity moments with their families amid controlling their tears,” said Haifa.
The prisoners make Eid candy with limited ingredients on hand and write Eid messages and songs. All the female inmates at Damon prison last year had a surprise in store, when they woke up in the morning to see sweets at their bedside. It had taken Haifa two days to prepare them with limited materials.
''I had managed to smuggle a candy-making tool from Hasharon to Damon Prison during a transfer between the courts. I prepared cookies for about 20 prisoners. We did not have a suitable oven for preparing sweets. I used a hot plate with a small pot for baking the cookies,'' she said.
"We decorate our cells in preparation for Eid. The prison administration often confiscates decoration material. Still we try to celebrate the Eid, prepare and exchange handmade colored cards,” said Haifa.