Arab mothers upset no youth included in swap

Defense for Children International releases statement criticizing the Schalit prisoner exchange deal for not including youth on list.

Palestinian solidarity with prisoners_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinian solidarity with prisoners_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
RAMALLAH – Basma Daraj will keep her two sons’ room closed.
They weren’t included in the deal for Gilad Schalit.
“I closed their room since they were arrested, and I feel miserable when I look at it empty,” she said.
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Daraj was among the crowd who participated in a rally showing solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike Monday at noon.
The 39-year-old is a single mother of Rami, 18, and Muhannad, 16, who are in Israeli prisons. Neither of them has been sentenced yet.
Muhannad, 16, was arrested near his house at the Kalandiya refugee camp last February. He was in his senior year of high school before he was arrested. The mother said Israeli special forces arrested him after clashes at the nearby IDF checkpoint.
“They have photos of him throwing rocks and Molotov bombs at the Israeli tanks,” she said.
Rami was arrested last March after she went with him to the prison to visit Muhannad.
Holding a picture of her two children, Basma was very angry when one of the demonstrators wanted to rally at the Egyptian embassy for the release of nine female prisoners.
“What about the children, why does no one care about them?” she shouted at the demonstrator.
The mother, wearing a black shirt, jeans and a light scarf covering her head, said no one understands her pain.
“I raised them all these years, do you think it is easy for me to see them in prisons?” She said when she asked the head of the Prisoners Club, Qaddoura Faris – a Fatah member – today why her sons were not included in the deal he told her to ask Hamas.
But the mother is not concerned with the details of the swap, just that no one is thinking of the children.
Defense for Children International- Palestine section released a statement on Monday criticizing the deal for not including youth in it.
The DCI said the latest figures show that there are 164 Palestinian children, ages 12-17, in Israeli detention facilities, including 35 young children ages 12–15.
Seventy-six of these children have been sentenced, while 88 children are being held in pre-trial detention, according to DCI.
Hamas leader in the West Bank Hassan Yousef said his movement understands people’s sensitivity and their emotional state, but he considers the agreement an achievement for Hamas.
“We managed to include in the deal 315 prisoners who have either life sentences or high sentences,” he said.
Yousef stressed that his movement prioritized these people over those who will serve only a year or two.