Palestinian couple to wed after groom’s 18-year Israeli jail term

Building in the Palestinian town of Anata in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, are seen behind the Israeli barrier, as seen from Jerusalem September 23, 2020. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 30 September 2020

Palestinian couple to wed after groom’s 18-year Israeli jail term

  • I never lost hope that our love would triumph in the end ... My story is one of thousands like it of women who suffer from the oppression of the occupation: Palestinian bride Jinan Samara

WEST BANK: When Palestinian bride Jinan Samara dons her wedding dress on Friday to marry Abdel Karim Mukhader, it will mark a ceremony of mixed emotions that has been forcibly put on hold for 18 years.

For on Sunday, her groom was finally released from a prison sentence imposed under the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Mukhader, 49, was aged just 31 when he was jailed, but his love for Samara has only grown stronger during his long years behind bars.

And his new wife-to-be was waiting at the Jalamah Israeli military checkpoint to greet him with a bouquet of flowers and a fond embrace after his release from the Majiddo detention center in the occupied West Bank.

“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,” she added.

Throughout her fiance’s imprisonment, Samara, an educational supervisor at Ministry of Education schools in the central West Bank city of Salfit, visited him whenever Israeli authorities allowed and helped him with university studies.

Thanks to her encouragement, Mukhader gained a master’s degree in Israeli studies, through Al-Quds University.

On his first night of freedom in 18 years, the couple stayed awake planning their wedding. “We want to use every minute to be together in our house after years of distancing and deprivation,” Samara said.

Mukhader said he would never forget his fiancee’s years of devotion and sacrifice. “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.

“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 added.

There are reportedly around 5,000 Palestinian detainees currently being held in Israeli jails, among them women and children, and Mukhader noted that conditions for inmates had worsened since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

“The embrace of freedom again and liberation from the occupation prisons represents a new birth certificate for any prisoner,” he said. “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.”

He said his worst moment in jail was when he received news of his mother’s death. “I felt that the prison bars were being applied roughly to my heart.”

Once married, Mukhader plans to complete his higher studies and obtain a doctorate in political economy, before fighting for the freedom of former prison colleagues.


Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

Turkish Cypriot politician Ersin Tatar celebrates his election victory in Turkish-controlled northern Nicosia, Cyprus October 18, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 October 2020

Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

  • The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months

NICOSIA: Turkish Cypriots in breakaway northern Cyprus on Sunday narrowly elected right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar, backed by Ankara, in a run-off poll, at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tatar, 60, clinched his surprise victory in a second round of presidential elections, winning 51.7 percent of the vote, official results showed.
He edged out incumbent Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, 72, a supporter of reunification with the Greek Cypriot south of the divided island, leaving attempts to relaunch long-stalled UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.
Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution and held the post of premier in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized only by Ankara.
He controversially received the open backing of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the election campaign.
In a victory speech to hundreds of cheering and Turkish flag-waving supporters, Tatar thanked Turkey’s head of state and said: “We deserve our sovereignty — we are the voice of Turkish Cypriots.
“We are fighting to exist within the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, therefore our neighbors in the south and the world community should respect our fight for freedom.”
There was no immediate official reaction from the Greek Cypriot government or ruling party in the south of the island, which is a European Union member state, although opposition parties were quick to lament the outcome.
Erdogan was swift to celebrate the victory, which followed a high 67-percent turnout at the polls.
“I congratulate Ersin Tatar who has been elected president ... Turkey will continue to provide all types of efforts to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people,” he wrote on Twitter.

HIGHLIGHT

Ersin Tatar edged out incumbent Mustafa Akinc, leaving attempts to relaunch UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.

In a telephone call the same night, Erdogan said he was confident the two leaders would maintain close cooperation in all areas, “starting with the hydrocarbon linked activities in the eastern Mediterranean,” his office said.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has become an increasingly assertive regional power that is now engaged in a bitter dispute with Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters.
The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months.
The second-round ballot was triggered after Tatar won 32 percent of the vote on Oct. 11 ahead of Akinci, who garnered just under 30 percent.
Akinci was tipped to secure a second term, having won the backing of Tufan Erhurman, a fellow social democrat who came third last time around.
After his defeat, Akinci, who had accused Ankara of meddling in the polls, thanked his supporters and said: “You know what happened ... I am not going to do politics on this.”
The TRNC, with a population of about 300,000, was established after the north was occupied by Turkey in 1974 in reaction to a coup that aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece.
Earlier in October, Turkish troops angered the Republic of Cyprus by reopening public access to the fenced-off seaside ghost town of Varosha for the first time since Turkish forces invaded the north.
The reopening was announced jointly by Erdogan and Tatar at a meeting in Ankara just days before the first round of polling.
It drew EU and UN criticism and sparked demonstrations in the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises its authority over the island’s south, separated from the TRNC by a UN-patrolled buffer zone.
On the eve of Sunday’s vote, Greek Cypriot demonstrators massed at a checkpoint along the so-called “Green Line,” holding signs that read “Cyprus is Greek,” in protest at the reopening of nearby Varosha to the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey has repeatedly said it seeks to defend Turkish and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Akinci’s relationship with Ankara had come under strain, especially after he described the prospect of the north’s annexation by Turkey as “horrible” in February.
When Akinci took office in 2015, he was hailed as the leader best placed to revive peace talks.
But hopes were dashed in July 2017 after UN-mediated negotiations collapsed in Switzerland, notably over Greek Cypriot demands for the withdrawal of the tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers still stationed in the TRNC.