Palestinian pregnant woman jailed in Israel speaks of fears

'My heart aches for him': Pregnant Palestinian held in Israel jail speaks of childbirth fears
3 min read
01 September, 2021
Activist are calling for the release of Palestinian detainee Anhar Al-Deek, who is nine-months pregnant, after she penned an emotional letter speaking of her fears.
Anhar Al-Deek was arrested when she was four-months pregnant [Getty]

Rights groups and activists have called for the immediate release of a Palestinian detainee held in Israeli jail who is nine-month pregnant and is expected to give birth imminently.

The Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs [CDA] said it is working hard to obtain approval for the transfer of 26-year-old Anhar Al-Deek to a hospital before she delivers her baby.

Al-Deek, from the village of Naima near Ramallah, was arrested in March on suspicion of attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at an illegal settlement outpost of Sde Ephraim in the West Bank, when she was four months pregnant.

She is being held at Damon Prison, south of Haifa, one of Israel's most outdated prisons. There are currently no infants there.

Al-Deek spoke of her fears of giving birth via cesarean section and the pain she is currently suffering in an emotional letter to her family.

"What should I do if I give birth far from you? I am tied up, how can I give birth via cesarean section when I am alone in prison?" she wrote. 

"I am exhausted, and I had severe pains in the pelvis and severe pain in my legs due to sleeping on the prison beds. I do not know how I want to sleep on it after my delivery operation." 

In her letter, parts of which were published by the Quds News Network, she spoke of how she will be put into isolation after the birth. 

"They will isolate me with my baby boy after delivery due to coronavirus. My heart aches for him. I have no idea how I will take care of him and protect him from their [sic] scary sounds they make," Al-Deek wrote. 

"No matter how strong his mother is, she will feel weak in the face of their ill-treatment to her and the other prisoners."

In comments to The New Arab's Arabic-language edition Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, CDA's lawyer Hanan Al-Khatib said Al-Deek has expressed great fear about going into labour in her prison cell.

"We want to maintain media pressure to ensure Deek's release or at least her transfer to a hospital so she can give birth there, especially since the prison where she is being held is not equipped for labour," Al-Khatib said.

Her husband, Thaer Al-Hijjah, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that he has only been allowed to see his pregnant wife once.

"The meeting lasted only 45 minutes, during which I was trying to reassure Anhar, but she was very worried about the possibility of giving birth in her cell," Hijjah said.

"Anhar faces difficulties in pregnancy, like many women. But the circumstances of her detention increased those difficulties, especially that she needs a cesarean section to deliver the baby."

Al-Deek's case has triggered a number of demonstrations in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip demanding her release. Scores rallied on Sunday in front of Damon prison.

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Arabic-language campaigns in support of Al-Deek and her unborn child have also gained momentum on social media under the hashtag #SaveAnhar.

According to a report by the Palestinian news agency WAFA, based on data from the Palestinian Prisoners Club advocacy group, a few detainees have given birth in Israeli prisons over the years, although they are considered rare.

The most recent case was Fatma Azek from Gaza, who was arrested in May 2007 when she was two months pregnant. She later gave birth in Israeli jail and was released one year later.