Edited by Norma Hashim and translated by Yousef M. Aljamal
Published by Manshurat Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi
Reviewed by Eram Fatima
Until you delve deep into anything, you can not know what is going on inside. That is what happened to me until I was not much concerned about the issue. I used to read it in the newspapers just to have inkling about the problems in the world.
Some days before, a book came into my hand which made me hooked to it. I completed it in a day. It was so engrossing that I could not keep it down. The title of the book is ‘Dreaming of Freedom’. Palestinian Child Prisoners had spoken directly and without any inhibition. It is being edited by Norma Hashim and translated by Yusuf M. AL Jamal. When I read it, I got to know about the situation of Israel-Palestine crisis much better through those eyes of these small innocent children.
The book is all about the drastic and grave situation those Palestinian children faced in prisons. Israel has been wreaking havoc on them since the last 15 years. Palestinians threw stones to chase them away, and in return, they got caught for ages. Sometimes, Israelis caught them without any crime on just petty false accusations and interrogated them for long like habitual and hard criminals and put them in jail without any bail and charge sheet. They treated them like beasts. The story is all about those different 24 children who got caught on various circumstances and spent their lives incarcerated. It’s an interview of all those 24 children one after another. While reading it I felt so much helpless and guilty that why I couldn’t help them. All children were of age just 13-17.
There was a boy named ‘Ahmed Khalaf’, aged 13, lives in Jenin who was arrested one day when he was in the park playing with his friends. They caught him, hit and terrorized badly and later on put into a prison. The jailers did not provide food for two days, and when they did show pity, it was stale and tasteless. It was rotten and thrown onto the toilet floor.
Those children were forced to live in a congested cell which was not even enough for a person. There were no place for the fresh air to breath; there were nothing to rest on. All day they lived damp and cold, with no proper food at all.
Whenever Israeli officers caught them, they tied their hands behind with a chord so stiff that it pierced deeply into their flesh. They used to keep the children blindfolded for long and hit them pointlessly. Those children used to think ‘When I saw my family after separation, their faces were more beautiful, their words nicer, everything seemed lighter than before, because I knew the value of freedom now.’
Those children felt that and realized in those cells what actually freedom was! They cried in the dark for so long and there was no one to give them shoulder to rest on. It became so common for them that it wouldn’t affect them even if they get caught 14-15 times. Their lives had been changed. They had left their schools which they used to enjoy a lot. They had nothing to read, nothing to play, nothing to dream about. Even if they were freed from jail, they were ordered to be in-house arrest for a year or months. This meant like a hell for them. They forgot to behave like children. They grew up so soon. Childishness and innocence got lost because of the cruel behavior of the Israeli police. They were affected not just physically, but psychologically too. Many of them took years to cope with that horrendous environment of the prison life. Many faced severe headache which didn’t let them sleep. It was horrific for them. Many were shot dead for no reason. Their parents cried, but no one was there to help them. Sometimes, the Israelis refused to let their families take their dead bodies. It was heartening to read.
The book is amazing and a must-read for those who don’t know how to live happily and cherish little things in their lives. It’s for those who don’t value freedom.