“When I went to the court to see him for the first time after his arrest, I entered the hall at “Ofer” and started looking for him. At first sight, I didn’t recognize him. Ten seconds later, his voice came calling my name: “Bayan… I’m here”.
His body was scrawny and exhausted, his face was pale, his hair and beard were plucked, and he had torture signs on his face and neck. How hard it was to see him that way”, the wife of Waleed Hanatsheh told QNN, narrating her experience seeing her tortured husband for the first time after arrest.
Hanatsheh’s wife, Bayan, added that although of her husband’s pains, he kept asking about her and their daughters. “Are you fine? are you fine? is everything well?”, he kept asking for the few precious minutes he had, ignoring his wounds and very tough condition.
The story started when Israeli soldiers and Shin Bet members suddenly broke into Hanatsheh’s house on October 3rd, 2019. They savagely broke into the family house, who was asleep. “We woke up to find them around”, Bayan said.
“We couldn’t even change our clothes. They were around us. They dragged Waleed (51 years old) and hit his head to the wall then handcuffed him and left after searching and vandalizing the house. They messed it all up”, she added.
After Waleed’s arrest, the life of his wife Bayan and daughters Mais (21 years old) and Malak (12 years old) was turned upside down. Both girls had been deprived of their father when they were younger, as their father, just like many Palestinian men, was arrested several times by the Israelis.
Between 2012 and 2019, Hanatsheh had a very normal life and he was never arrested. He had a happy and stable married life. He used to work as a financial manager for the Health Work Committees and he loved his work, according to Bayan.
“Waleed is very kind and beloved. He helped everyone. He is also quiet and has a sense of humor. Mais, Malak and I really miss all of those attributes”, she added.
The Israelis have arrested Mais for three days to blackmail her father, who saw her during one of his interrogation sessions. His daughters are deeply attached to him.
Torture during interrogation
Waleed’s family has not known anything about him for 45 days. He was denied visits by his lawyer. The family knew by other prisoners that Waleed used a wheelchair to move and that he was subjected to extreme torture.
After the first renewal of Waleed’s detention (nearly 50 days after his arrest), Bayan went to see her husband but she did not recognize him due to the severe torture to which he was subjected.
“Mais and I entered and tried to look for Waleed. There was only one person in the hall. I didn’t recognize him but he realized that and called our names. His body did not help him even to stand up, his neck was blue, his voice was hoarse, and his beard hair was plucked. We had only two minutes to talk”, Bayan said.
A visit to Ofer jail
Bayan said that the first visits were the hardest. The Israelis wanted to punish Waleed by assaulting his family. They prevented Mais from visiting her father and prevented his family from bringing clothes to him in one visit. In another incident, Bayan and Malak were searched for 15 minutes, which were deducted from the already short time of the visit.
Bayan stated that Waleed suffers from torture signs. He has severe pain his back. The interrogators deliberately hit him on his back although he suffers from a herniated disc.