An Israeli military court has freed a Palestinian mum who is nine months pregnant so that she can give birth at home after activists and the United Nations launched an international appeal for her release.
Anhar al-Deek would have been the first woman to give birth in an Israeli prison since 2008 after she was arrested for trying to stab a Jewish settler in the West Bank, a territory claimed by Palestine which has been partially annexed by Israel.
The Ofer Military Court has put the 26-year-old pregnant Palestinian woman under house arrest against bail of ILS 40,000 (GBP 9,000) after an international campaign for her release was launched on social media.
Under Israeli law, newborns can stay with their mothers in prison until they reach the age of two but in this case, Judge Sivan Omer said when she issued the ruling that remaining incarcerated was “not an optimal situation for a newborn and could endanger the child’s health.”
Damon Prison, where al-Deek was being held, is one of the country’s most outdated prisons, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The terms of release established by the Ofer Military Court include the fact that she will be under her mother’s supervision and will have to take part in mental health sessions, as well as receive medical treatment. She will also have to report to an Israeli police station every week.
Al-Deek was arrested in March this year for attempting to stab an Israeli settler at the Sde Ephraim settlement outpost in the West Bank.
She was charged with aggravated attempted assault and possessing a knife.
These last few weeks have seen the “Save Anhar al-Deek” slogan steadily gaining momentum on social media, at first mainly from Arabic-language campaigns, still according to Haaretz.
In a social media post that the Israeli newspaper has attributed to the pregnant Palestinian woman, she reportedly said: “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.”
There have also been demonstrations in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, and her lawyer Akram Samara has said that al-Deek is suffering from depression and had at one point tried to take her own life.
Samara added that an examination showed that his client had been receiving psychological treatment before being incarcerated.
Her lawyer has argued that she has a history of mental illness and was mentally impaired during the stabbing incident that led to her arrest, according to Israeli newspaper The Times of Israel.
The 26-year-old wrote a message to her family which was then published online in which she spoke of the poor conditions she was allegedly being detained under and her fear of having to give birth while in prison.
The message came to the attention of various activists, as well as the UN, who demanded that she be released, according to the Wafa news agency.
The woman, who is already the mother of two girls, added: “I miss my daughter so much that it breaks my heart.”
Al-Deek was released from prison on Thursday evening, according to Qatari media outlet Al Jazeera.
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