Woroud Qasem: Very Dangerous and Free
By: Fadi Abu Saada
Published Saturday, August 11, 2012
Resistance activist Woroud Qasem was given a hero’s welcome by her family and friends on Thursday upon being released after six years in an Israeli prison.
The occupation forces classed the young woman as “very dangerous” and charged her with several crimes, the most serious of which was attempting to carry out a guerrilla operation in a restaurant in the city of Raanana.
Her full name is Woroud Maher Qasem. She was born in Tira Bani Saab in the southern Galilee Triangle on 20 June 1986. She was the youngest of the family, with three brothers and a sister. She studied and lived in Tira where she graduated from the Ibrahim Qasem high school in 2004. She worked for two years before she decided to go to college.
In an interview with Al-Akhbar, Woroud confessed to experiencing mixed feelings after her release. She said: “I feel great joy, a feeling I cannot describe and a sentiment that only someone who is released from prison could know. I have finally returned to my home and my family and friends’ embrace. But I won’t hide the fact that this joyful feeling is mixed with sadness for the fellow detainees I left behind in prison.”
Woroud adds: “Among those I bid farewell to are prisoners that were arrested before the Oslo Agreement ,but the world has not lifted a finger for them. These prisoners have spent their lives in prison not for personal ends but to defend the cause of the Arab nation. They should be given their most basic rights, but I think the world neglects the cause of political prisoners.”
Woroud, like all female prisoners in Israeli prisons, suffered tremendously, especially before court appearances and during transfers from one prison to another. She spent time in several prisons. The first was the infamous Ramla Prison, the second was HaSharon Prison and finally Damon Prison. She described how her bed in the Ramla Prison was a “cement block” and she was rarely able to get a blanket. If she did, it would be unfit for use.
“You have to quickly adapt to the new prison you are transferred to, its harsh conditions and new management,” she says. Woroud and fellow prisoners were attacked by the Nahshon unit responsible for controlling prisoners. Filing complaints against these attacks came to nothing.
Qasem says that the occupation forces always mixed political prisoners and prisoners with criminal convictions. This made life even harder when she and her companions were the targets of their curses and insults.
During her imprisonment, Qasem suffered greatly because of the policy of medical neglect. After several years in prison, she developed a stomach condition which made her throw everything she ate. She lost a lot of weight and became gaunt due to lack of medical care. She also suffered from severe toothache.
She made several requests to be transferred to a hospital for treatment but the occupation forces would always try to bargain with her for her medical needs. For example, they offered her treatment if she would agree to three months solitary confinement, an offer she rejected even though she suffered from bone and joint problems.
Woroud was also subjected to repeated assaults when she was brought to the District Court in Tel Aviv by the guards who always prevented her from talking to her parents. They would attack her and drag her by the handcuffs and chains that shackled her hands and feet. This would happen in front of delegates from human rights associations without any of them taking action.
When she was arrested, Woroud was working in a mall. The occupation forces closed all the roads leading to the mall and blockaded it from all sides. They asked Woroud to accompany them calmly and without resistance after they handcuffed her. She was taken to her car in the parking lot where they seized everything in it.
That was in October of 2006 during the month of Ramadan. Woroud was fasting and it was almost 4:00 pm. Seven hours after her arrest, the occupation authorities informed her family that she had been detained for an investigation. They also arrested two of her female friends but they were released that same day.
She spent four years in prison between investigations and courts until charges were filed against her in 2010. The most prominent charge was planning to blow up a restaurant in Raanana, transporting an explosive belt that weighed 7 kilograms and detonated through a mobile phone and shooting at the Liaison Office in Qalqilya in the northern West Bank. She was also charged with cooperating with the enemy, belonging to a hostile and terrorist organization, and recruiting members for hostile groups. She was sentenced to six years in prison and a suspended two year sentence.
The Israeli judges and the public prosecutor considered her “very dangerous” because she has Israeli citizenship. She constitutes a danger to the state because she is free to move in the occupied territories. During her imprisonment, many extremist zionist parties called for her family to be forced out of their town and deprived of all their rights, but they failed to achieve their goal.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.