RAMALLAH – On the way to Deir Jarir, a village to the northeast of Ramallah,
taxi drivers hung photos of the imprisoned Palestinian Esmat Mansour on their
cars. The entrance of the village was decorated with pictures of Mansour, who
was arrested at the age of 16.
Mansour is expected to be in the first
group of the 104 Palestinian prisoners Israel agreed to release during the
nine-month period of peace talks.
He was convicted of being an accessory
in the murder of 30- year-old Hayim Mizrahi in 1993. Two of the other assailants
were sentenced to 99 years, while Esmat’s jail time was 22 years. He served 20
years of the full sentence.
Mansour helped subdue the victim, who was on
his way to buy eggs from an Arab-owned farm near his home. Mizrahi’s body was
stuffed into the trunk of his vehicle, which the perpetrators used to
In front of the Mansour home, a tent was erected in preparation for
His mother, Um Mu’tasem, had just had a moment to sit
and relax after two days of preparing for her son’s release.
received dozens of journalists in the past few days. I didn’t sleep or
rest, but it’s all for Esmat’s sake,” she told The Jerusalem Post
The mother paused for a second to wait for a nearby bulldozer to
stop working, when Ali Mu’tasem, Esmat’s cousin, continued: “We’re preparing a
stage when Esmat arrives. If he arrives Tuesday night, then we are going to
celebrate. Otherwise, we’ll party Wednesday night,” he told the
It’s been 20 years since Um Mu’tasem was able to hug her son. She
was granted a visit on Id al-Fitr – the festival that marks the end of Ramadan –
“This was the first time in 20 years I wished my son a happy
holiday on the [festival],” she said.
Um Mu’tasem displayed her hands,
decorated with henna, and described how she was able to have her first handshake
with her son, as she was usually separated by a glass barrier.
to put henna on the walls to express my excitement,” she said, in reference to
the tradition of women staining their hands with the dye during festive
She still can’t believe her son will be released on Tuesday
“I will not believe it until he’s here in the house,” she
She continued to say that during the 2011 prisoner swap for
kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, she was disappointed that her son was
not going to be released.
“She was expecting her son to be among the
people who would be freed. When he wasn’t on the list, she lost consciousness,”
Wafa, Esmat’s sister- in-law, told the Post
“Esmat always used to tell
me that it’s better for those who are spending longer terms to be released
before me,” Um Mu’- tasem said.
When the news was released that Esmat was
on the list, all of her relatives rushed to give her the news, which caused her
to faint out of excitement. The family danced, sang and celebrated the news on
On Monday, the women joined in the celebratory preparation
at the house Esmat grew up in. His cousin, Esrar, was one of the relatives most
excited to soon meet her cousin for the first time.
When her mother was
pregnant with her, Esmat asked to name the baby girl “Esrar,” meaning
“I want to ask him ‘what does determination [mean] and
why that name?’” Esrar told the Post
Both parents don’t wish for Esmat
to be involved in politics but instead to get married and to enjoy
Esmat’s father, Mansour, doesn’t want him to work in the family’s
car rental business.
“Our job is too stressful. I want him to have a
simpler life. He’s gone through enough,” he added.
“We paid our
prices, and they did too,” the mother said, referring to the Mizrahis, who lost
“No mother likes her son to be away from her for 20 years,”
she said, denying any knowledge of her son’s role in killing
“Our son is an accessory who happened to be there, but we send
our condolences to the family of the settler who died. We’re humans and
Mansour told the Post that the family will go to the
Presidential Headquarters in Ramallah Tuesday night to bring their son
“I can’t express my feelings unless I see him, I don’t know how I
will react,” the father explained.
While many relatives asked to host
Esmat for lunches, the mother refused.
“His stomach can’t handle heavy
Arabic dishes such as mensaf or musakhan. We asked everyone to give him time to
relax and get adjusted to the new life,” she said.
The family members
believe their son will be positively surprised with the new changes in the
village and family.
“We have... 60 new members who were born into the
family after he was detained,” the mother said.
Esmat’s brothers and
sisters are coming from the US on Wednesday to welcome home their brother.