Remembering Samer, imprisoned Palestinian

Dear Samer,

I chose this way of writing you. Nobody from your relatives wants to meddle with me any more because I started to spread dangerous thoughts of removing Hamas from power. I understand them. They are afraid of the ruling terror regime. Anyhow, I believe somebody will pass this open letter to you.

I remember, Samer, how I first met you. Around 7th of July 2014 in the Gaza security prison (few days later bombed by Israel), they collected us, prisoners, in the yard, put sackcloth bags on our heads, and loaded us onto the truck that drove us to Al-Katiba prison, where they split us into cells. I ended with you and other prisoner (Hanni, who later died of a heart attack) in the big cell on the 2nd floor.

When I first entered the cell, you set up a round plastic table, and started asking me. What did I do when I got here? I told you that I cut the fence into Gaza and had letter to IDF that I wanted to bring Jewish girls to Israel. Well, my mission failed (why on earth did I left the letter for IDF in my bag ? Well, each good plan crashes upon reaching the battlefield.)

We had many chats, dear Samer, and you surprised me with your western-like pro-democratic thinking. You graduated few semesters at American university in U.S., and decided to return to Gaza in 2011. I believe you are innocent and you did not murder your parents. But Hamas does not care about justice for the his people. Maybe your imprisonment was the punishment for your refusal to enter Hamas ranks.

I am reminding you gave me small shampoo for the shower, built by Red Cross. Or how you joked about me “becoming an expert” on used weaponry in the Israel-Hamas 2014 summer war. I heard a lot of war noise, and I somehow learnt to recognize the sound of launched Hamas rocket from a sound of Israeli jet response. Hamas rocket, launched in the prison’s vicinity, really made a lot of rumble.

Concerning other guys of the cell. Is there Sami H.? Photo of him from 2013 is still on the internet. Even in the same collection there is picture of that mentally weak fellow. Once he broke a plate of the cell kitchen equipment, and he got beaten by other prisoners. Is there also Tarek ? Once he surprised me by saying few Hebrew words, I think it was ‘Baruch Hashem’, when he sat with Sami on his bed. Tarek worked in Israel, as many Gazans, and had a decent life. All broke when Hamas got into power and Gaza become an isolated enclave. Is there Nael? He was kind to me, he provided me with the food. Is there Mustafa Masud? He was very smart guy. He taught me some Arabic.

I reflect, Samer, our last hug when – on 17th July 2014 – two ICRC Gaza representatives picked me up from the prison and brought to Erez crossing. After 37 days of imprisonment I successfully restarted my life in the home country, while you continued to waste your young life in Al-Katiba prison.

I understand, Samer, your desire to avenge Hamas for your imprisonment. I long to hurt Hamas too. First I wanted, as a zealous Christian Zionist, “only” to bring home these Jewish girls, but now I desire for more. I saw and see how you and other Arab people are suffering under Hamas. Therefore, let me allow to shout here – down with Hamas! Free Gaza!

Please, Samer, forgive me if you would – after publishing this post – get punishment from your incarcerators. I wrote what was on my heart – you are my suffering friend and I am giving respect to you.

About the Author
By profession, Miroslav Ilias is an Associate Professor at Matej Bel University, Slovakia. By heart, he is Christian Zionist.
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