Israel Releases Pregnant Palestinian Detainee to House Arrest Following Outcry

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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Protesters at a Hamas-sponsored rally calling for the release of Anhar al-Deek in Ramallah, on Sunday.
Protesters at a Hamas-sponsored rally calling for the release of Anhar al-Deek in Ramallah, on Sunday.Credit: ABBAS MOMANI / AFP
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

An Israeli military court ordered on Thursday the release of a pregnant Palestinian prisoner Anhar al-Deek, charged with an attempted stabbing attack, to house arrest on a 40,000 shekel (about $12,000) bail.

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Al-Deek would have been the first Palestinian detainee to give birth in an Israeli prison. Her case drew local and international attention, with campaigns on social media calling for her release.

The law allows for newborn babies to stay with their mother in jail up until the age of two, but Judge Sivan Omer said in her ruling that staying in prison is "not an optimal situation for a newborn and could endanger the child's health."

Anhar al-Deek following her release, on Thursday.

Damon Prison, where al-Deek is held, is one of Israel’s most outdated prisons and no infants currently reside there. 

According to Al-Deek's release terms set by the Ofer military court, citing concerns over her mental stability, she must be supervised by her mother, attend mental health sessions and receive medical treatment.

Damon Prison, three years ago. Credit: Rami Shllush

The 26-year-old was arrested in March on suspicion of trying to carry out a stabbing attack at the Sde Ephraim settlement outpost in the West Bank, when she was four-months pregnant.

Al-Deek was charged with aggravated attempted assault and possession of a knife, and was remanded to custody at Damon Prison.

Over the past few weeks mainly Arabic-language campaigns calling for al-Deek's release have gained momentum on social media under the banner “Save Anhar al-Deek.”

Posts credited to al-Deek describe harsh conditions in prison, as well as her concerns for the fate of her baby and herself. “The prison guards said they would put me and the baby in solitary confinement because of the coronavirus. My heart already aches for my son,” one post said. Demonstrations demanding al-Deek’s release have taken place in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, featuring caricatures that depict al-Deek and her baby as prisoners in an Israeli jail.

Al-Deek’s attorney, Adv. Akram Samara, asked the court on Tuesday to place her in a psychiatric hospital in Ramallah as an alternative to continued imprisonment. Samara said that al-Deek suffers from depression, previously tried to commit suicide, and that an examination conducted for purposes of the court proceedings revealed that al-Deek was in psychological treatment before.

Al-Deek originally asked that her baby remain in custody with her and the prison service says it has made preparations to that end. 

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