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Prisoners in Israel. Photo by Limor Edry
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AP
Palestinian women passing through an Israeli checkpoint on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the second Friday off the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Friday, July 27, 2012. Photo by AP

RAMALLAH - A child has been born to a Palestinian couple through artificial insemination, using sperm smuggled out of an Israeli jail where the father is currently serving a life sentence, family members and hospital officials said yesterday.

Dalal Zaban, 31, told a local radio station that she was thrilled with the birth of the healthy boy on Monday, which the couple named Muhammed, after a friend of her husband who was killed in a battle against Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

"I am very happy," she said. "The baby was a gift from God."

Zaban said the idea to get pregnant was that of husband, Ammar, 37, who was arrested in January 1998 and sentenced to 27 life terms plus 25 years for acts he carried out as member of Hamas.

"He wanted me to have a baby boy who can be with me as my daughters grow up," she said.

When Ammar was arrested, the couple had an 18-month old daughter, Bashaer, and Dalal was five months pregnant with another daughter, Bisan. Today, Bashaer is 16 and Bisan is 14.

"The girls are going to go to college, then get married and move to their homes and my husband did not want me to be alone, so he wanted me to have a baby who can be with me," she said.

According to Salem Abu Khaizaran, who performed the artificial insemination, Dalal came to him in 2006 with the idea.

"We were surprised by her request," he told a press conference in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, where the Zabans come from. "We hesitated at the beginning and advised her to consult her family, friends and community first," he added.

Dalal said she got the backing of her family and community, who stood by her during her caesarean birth at a Nablus hospital and cheered when the baby was born.

Ammar's sperm was smuggled from prison and arrived at Abu Khaizaran's clinic 12 hours later, where it was preserved it and the artificial insemination process started.