Palestinian couple finally to marry after groom's 18-year Israeli prison sentence

Palestinian couple finally to marry after groom's 18-year Israeli prison sentence
Jinan Samara and Abdel Karim Mukhader had planned to wed nearly two decades ago but are finally getting the chance to tie the knot after the groom's release from prison.
3 min read
30 September, 2020
The couple will marry later this week [Getty]
A Palestinian couple is set to wed this week after a nearly two-decade long engagement.

Abdel Karim Mukahder was released from Israeli prison on Sunday after spending 18 years behind bars.

The first thing on his to-do list after years waiting for freedom? Plan his wedding to fiancee Jinan Samara.

Samara greeted him at an Israeli military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Sunday with a bouquet of flowers, and the couple stayed up late planning their wedding celebration after their years-long seperation. 

"I never lost hope that our love would triumph in the end. I did not hesitate for a moment in deciding to be patient and wait for him, and my family did not interfere in my decision, but encouraged and supported me," Samara told Arab News.

"My story is one of thousands like it of women who suffer from the oppression of the occupation. In many homes, there is a wife or mother of a martyr or a prisoner," the educational supervisor said.

Samara regularly visited her fiance while he was held in prison, helping Mukhader to study for his master's degree in Israeli Studies from Palestine's Al-Quds University.

"If I offered her the world with what it contained, I would not fulfill her right. Palestinian women are always side by side with men paying the tax of occupation and injustice," Mukhader, who was imprisoned when he was 31, told Arab News.

"But despite my joy in freedom and meeting Jinan and my loved ones, my heart is still with thousands of prisoners, my colleagues, who suffer oppression and injustice in the prisons of the occupation," he said.

There are currently more than 4,000 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons, according to the Israeli NGO B'tselem, which says that the figure compiled from Israeli military data may not include all of the Palestinians held by Israel. There are 160 children among the detainees.

Human rights organisations have accused Israel of subjecting Palestinian detainees to rights abuses and ill-treatment, including extended solitary confinement and the denial of family visits. The Palestinian Prisoners' Club alleged earlier this year that as many as 95 percent of detainees face torture while in prison.

Conditions have grown worse over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights last month expressing concern over the growing number of coronavirus cases in the Israeli prison system.

"The embrace of freedom again and liberation from the occupation prisons represents a new birth certificate for any prisoner," Mukhader told Arab News. "Prisons are like graves, and time inside is slow and heavy. With the passage of years, the prisoner loses the ability to perceive the value of minutes and hours."

The couple's wedding will finally take place on Friday this week after their 18-year wait. 

After getting married, Mukhader plans to study for a PhD in political economy and work to secure the release of Palestinian detainees.

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