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From the field

Israel refuses to allow a mother to visit her son imprisoned in Israel, claiming that they are not related

H.'A, widow

I live with my two daughters and my son 'Izzat. My husband died six years ago. I work for the Nablus municipality.

On 26 March 2004, my son ' I. was arrested when he was at home. He was nineteen at the time. He was tried on 15 January 2005 and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. He is now being held in Gilboa Prison. When visits to prisoners began, in December 2004, I filed a request through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nablus to visit my son. I called daily and went to the ICRC's offices to learn what was happening with the request. Then, at the end of the month, the ICRC informed me that my request had been denied because there was no family relationship. I was very surprised by the reason. What is closer than the mother-son relationship? What more do they want? The clerk at the ICRC asked me to bring my son's birth certificate so we could make a new request and prove that I am his mother. I brought them the birth certificate and submitted a new request. But nothing has changed. Whenever I go to the ICRC, they tell me that I am refused a permit because there is no family relationship.

I was very sad not being able to visit my son. 'Izzat, who is fourteen and in the ninth grade, is the one who goes to visit his brother in Gilboa Prison. Over the past year, he visited him twice a month, except for the Jewish holidays, when visits aren't allowed, or following an attack inside Israel . I leave with my neighbor at 2:30 A.M. to take 'Izzat to the parking lot from which the buses carrying the prisoners' relatives leave. The whole visit, from the time he leaves the house to the time the returns, can take twenty hours. I go to pick him up at the bus parking lot. He is drowsy and dizzy. I want to hear news about my son so badly, but 'Izzat is exhausted and doesn't have the strength to say a thing, or even eat, until the next morning.

I feel bad for 'Izzat, who has to travel many hours to visit his brother. The visit itself lasts only forty-five minutes. Despite the arduous journey, I want him to visit and see his brother. I miss him so much. I long to hear his voice and to speak and laugh with him. Lots of time has passed since I made the food he likes. I hope he gets out soon. Then I'll cook his favorite food. Not long ago, I made what he really likes: stuffed cabbage and pizza. I cried every time something reminded me of him. I would cook this food only for him. My only hope is to see him and hear his voice.

H.'A., 45, a widow, is a government clerk, and a resident of Nablus district. Her testimony was given to Salma a-Deb'i on 25 December 2005.