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From the field

Israel prevents R.'O., a cancer patient, from visiting her son imprisoned in Israel

R.'O., 58

In 1969, I was arrested and detained in the al-Masqubya detention facility [the Russian Compound, Jerusalem ] for forty-seven days. Later, I was indicted and sentenced to four years' imprisonment for resisting the occupation. I was released in 1973. In 1975, I was detained again and interrogated for forty days. After that, I was detained for five months. Since then I have not been detained. I returned to my work at the al-Makassed charity, and in 1977 I married A.I., born in 1948, and we started a family. We have four children: L., 27 years old, K., 25, A., 20, and I. , 17.

On April 6, 2002, L. [R.'s twenty-seven-year-old son] was detained and questioned for about thirty days and was then taken to Ashkelon Prison. We went to visit him two months after he was arrested, and for two years after that we went to visit him weekly, until he was sentenced to twenty-eight years' imprisonment.

In October 2002, my son A. was also detained and questioned for thirty-eight days, and then they moved him to Tel Mond Prison. The Israelis did not let his father and me visit him, with the reason given that we had been detained in the past. Yet, we had been allowed to visit our other son L. every week. In April 2003, seven months after A. was detained and following numerous requests filed and intervention by HaMoked, we were allowed to visit him. We went to see him every two weeks at Tel Mond, and his brother, L., every week in Ashkelon Prison.

I fell ill with breast cancer and ovarian cancer and had a mastectomy. The trips to the prison were really hard on me. They kept transferring A. from prison to prison. He was held in prisons in Ramla, the Negev, Megiddo , Gilboa, and most recently, in Hasharon Prison. L. was held most of the time in Ashkelon Prison and in Beersheva. We submitted lots of requests that they be held in the same prison to make it easier for us, and the authorities finally agreed. Now, the two of them are in Hasharon Prison, which makes it a lot easier for us.

In July 2005, I went to visit the two boys, and I got a feeling that is impossible to describe. I was so happy to visit the two of them together, which made things much easier for me and was like family unification for me. But when I got to the prison, I was surprised to hear from the prison authorities that I could not visit, because I had been detained in 1975. I told them that for more than three years I had visited my sons. But they didn't change their mind. After much begging and talk, they let my husband and me make one visit. On 25 July 2005, we went to the prison and visited the boys. I have not been allowed to visit them since.

They also don't let my son, I. , visit, because he got in trouble with the authorities at Tel Mond Prison. He had wanted to visit at Tel Mond with his aunt. The authorities did not let the aunt enter for the visit, and I. protested vehemently. The prison authorities prohibited him from entering the prison for one year. K. [another son] studies abroad, so nobody in my family can visit the boys and see how they are. Only first-degree relatives are given permits to visit, so there isn't anybody who is allowed to visit them.

My health has deteriorated as a result. Now I also suffer from diabetes and a slipped disc. I dream daily about visiting my sons, and my days pass with great difficulty. I think the authorities are trying to punish the family and add to its suffering. Otherwise, why did they let us visit for the past three years? Then, too, they knew that I had once been in prison. That was more than thirty years ago.

R.'O., 58, married with four children, is a pharmacist's assistant and a resident of al-Quds district. Her testimony was given to Karim Jubran at the witness' house on 26 December 2005.