How Palestinians Started Smuggling their Sperm out of Israeli Prisons – Tareq S. Hajjaj 8/11/23


An entire generation of Palestinian children has been born through sperm smuggled by Palestinian prisoners behind bars. Israel refuses to recognize these children. In doing so, it criminalizes Palestinian life itself.

In the darkness of Israeli prison cells and the Supreme Court’s halls, there’s no shortage of injustice levied against Palestinian detainees. We were reminded of this grim reality last week when the Israeli Local District Court denied the release of terminally-ill Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqah, who has completed his 37-year sentence but is still being held for an additional two years for acts he carried out inside prison. One of those acts is smuggling cell phones inside prison, which Palestinian prisoners use to contact loved ones in light of the denial of family visitation. The other is the smuggling of his own sperm outside of prison to his wife, Sana Salameh, in a fertility clinic.

Together, they conceived their daughter, Milad, which in Arabic means “birth.” Milad is now 3.

Walid is not the only Palestinian to smuggle his sperm outside of prison. The story of Walid Daqqah is the story of a nation, and many others have sought to stubbornly cling to life by insisting on creating it, even as they languish behind the prison’s walls. As Daqqah was serving his life sentence, he requested the Israeli court to allow him to have children given his long-term sentence, but his request was denied. So when he and others like him defied the Israeli prison authorities, they faced harsh repercussions. For Walid, he was denied family visitation and the right to visit his daughter, and his sentence was extended. Daqqah’s family has stated that the Israeli District Court’s recent decision to deny his early release is effectively a death sentence.

But for Palestinian prisoners, these punitive measures have hardly deterred them in their attempt to resist the attempts of the Israeli prison system to break them. Most Palestinian prisoners enter Israeli prison very young, and leave — if they are lucky — significantly older. Many are serving double or triple life sentences amounting to over 100 years — commonplace sentences for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Instead of losing hope, Palestinian prisoners — especially the married ones with spouses waiting for them on the outside — conceived an entire generation of Palestinian children through smuggled sperm. These children are known as “the ambassadors of freedom.”…

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