[This compendia is part of a bundle of content produced by Jadaliyya’s Palestine Page Editors on Palestinian Prisoners. This bundle engages a range of subjects centering the Palestinian prisoner in the realm of carcerality and colonialism, as well as resistance to them. Click here for a full list of articles and compendia included in this bundle.]
The personal letters that follow are each unique and each a glimpse of thousands more like them written every day. They are messages to loved ones and to the Palestinian public, and often are also a medium for Palestinian prisoners to think and dream aloud. Some letters make it to their destination and others will forever sit in prison cells as collections of unsent and unread stories and questions. The selection below are letters that were received by families and shared with the community.
These letters have been previously published and are linked to external sites.
Walid Dakka, written on the 25th year of his imprisonment, 2011. (Arabic)
اليوم، أنهي عامي الخامس والعشرين في السجن، تسعة آلاف ومئة وواحد وثلاثون يوما وربع (9131)... إنه الرقم الذي لا ينتهي عند حد.. إنه عمري الاعتقالي الذي لم ينته بعد... وها أنا قد بلغت الخمسين، وعمري قد انتصف بين السجن والحياة... والأيام قد قبضت على عنق الأيام.. كل يوم أمضيته في السجن يقلب "شقيقه" الذي أمضيته في الحياة، ككيس يحاول إفراغ ما تبقى به من ذاكرة... فالسجن كالنار يتغذى على حطام الذاكرة.. وذاكرتي، يا مهجة القلب، غدت هشيما وجف عودها... أهرّبها مدونة على ورق حتى لا تحترق بنار السجن والنسيان.. أما أنت، فأنت أجمل تهريب لذاكرتي... أنت رسالتي للمستقبل بعد أن امتصت الشهور رحيق أخوتها الشهور... والسنين تناصفت مع أخواتها السنين
Thaer Halahleh, “My Beloved Lamar…Forgive me,” a letter to his daughter, May 2012.
“Lamar my love: I know that you are not to be blamed and that you don’t yet understand why your father is going through this battle of hunger strike for the 75th day, but when you grow up you will understand that the battle of freedom is the battle of going back to you, so that I can never be taken away from you again or to be deprived of your smile or seeing you, so that the occupier will never kidnap me again from you.”
Samah Jaradat, writing to her family on interrogation and torture, 2019. (Arabic)
يذكر أن الاحتلال الإسرائيلي قد اعتقل الطالبة في جامعة بيرزيت سماح جرادات في التاسع من ايلول الماضي، وجرى استدعاء شقيقها سامي في البداية ومنع المحامي من زيارتها في تحقيق المسكوبية، قبل نقلها إلى الدامون.
Khalida Jarrar, “Imprisoned but Free,” to her late daughter Suha, July 2021.
"Suha, my precious.
They have stripped me from bidding you a final goodbye kiss.
I bid you farewell with a flower.
Your absence is searingly painful, excruciatingly painful.
But I remain steadfast and strong,
Like the mountains of beloved Palestine."
Mahmoud Arda, “Letter to his Mother,” Sept 2021.
“I smelled freedom and we saw that the world has changed. I climbed the mountains of Palestine for long hours and we walked across broad plains. I saw how the plain of Arraba, my hometown, is a small part of Bisan and Nazareth."
Mahmoud Al-Areza, “I Brought You Honey as a Gift,” Sept 2021.
"After greetings, [my mother] tried to come and hug you before you left this world, but God decreed a different fate for us.” You are in my heart and I give you the good news that I ate figs, cactus fruit, and pomegranate [during my release for a few days]. Famous (a kind of desert plant), I ate thyme. After 25 years of deprivation, I ate guava. “I had a box of honey in my pocket as a gift."