Prominent Palestinian prisoner Israa Jaabis (C) arrives at her home in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem early on November 26, 2023. AFP
On 11 October 2015, Israa set out on a journey from Jericho to Jerusalem with her son Mu'tasim, their car loaded with household items. A breakdown near an Israeli military checkpoint changed the course of her life. An encounter with a former Israeli police officer escalated, resulting in a tragic turn of events.
Requesting Israa's ID, the officer insisted she remain inside the car while he inspected her documents. Ignoring her concerns about a strange smell, the situation took a dire turn when a kitchen gas cylinder in her car caught fire due to engine failure. Desperate to escape, Israa's attempts were thwarted as the officer forcefully shut the car door, causing her severe injuries.
The aftermath left Israa with third-degree burns covering 60% of her body, leading to the amputation of eight fingers, significant damage to the remaining digits, and partial vision loss in her right eye. Her ears fused to her head, resulting in hearing impairments. Despite her critical condition, she was denied proper medical care and pain relief in prison, with surgery requests consistently turned down by Israeli prison authorities.
Israa's release on 25 November 2023 marked a significant moment, as part of the truce between Hamas and Israel. Expressing humility upon her release, she said, "We are ashamed to rejoice while all of Palestine is wounded," emphasizing the need for the release of all prisoners.
Today, a Jordanian doctor announced their commitment to provide free medical treatment for Israa, offering a glimmer of hope for her recovery.
It is noteworthy that the released Palestinian prisoners, including Israa, are exclusively women and individuals under the age of 19. Similarly, those released by Hamas as captives are limited to women and children.
The plight of around 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli captivity, including 31 women and 160 minors, is a growing concern. This number has surged since October 7, with Israel arresting 1,215 Palestinians in the West Bank.