Anhar al-Deek, the Palestinian woman who was set to give birth in an Israeli prison, has been released to house arrest.
Israel’s Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank agreed to release her conditionally on Thursday and imposed a bail of $12,500.
She will have to stay in her family home in the village of Kafr Nima, northwest of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank.
Al-Deek thanked supporters after her release.
“Only a detainee who has been freed, with the help of God, after experiencing incarceration can understand how I am feeling right now,” she said.
Inhuman conditions and medical neglect
This came following appeals by human rights defenders and the Palestinian Authority’s commission for prisoners, as well as growing outrage among Palestinians.
On Thursday, a group of Palestinian human rights organizations sent an appeal through the United Nations calling for al-Deek’s immediate release.
Al-Deek was being “incarcerated in Damon prison as she critically enters her ninth month of pregnancy,” the groups stated.
“She continues to suffer from inhuman living conditions, deliberate medical neglect – notably including lacking prenatal care – deteriorating health conditions and high-risk pregnancy.”
Had she not been released, al-Deek faced the prospect of giving birth by cesarean section in coming days while shackled to a bed, as other Palestinian women detained by Israel have done before her.
She would also have faced the prospect of “raising her newborn in Israeli prisons under conditions amounting to torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” the human rights groups said.
Prior to the decision to release al-Deek, Israeli prison authorities had already denied requests for her mother or husband to attend her birth and had decided that she would be placed in solitary confinement before her delivery, supposedly due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Such conditions would “exacerbate the mother’s postpartum trauma and poor health,” the groups said.
Under these dire circumstances, al-Deek’s release is being seen as a victory, with Palestinians sharing photos and videos of her returning home to a warm welcome.
Mental health crisis
Although al-Deek will be spared the horror of giving birth alone in prison, it is unclear what her future holds.
Despite her conditional release, al-Deek still faces the harsh weight of Israel’s military court system, where she faces charges of assault and possession of a weapon.
Al-Deek was detained in March when she allegedly entered Sde Efraim and attempted to stab a resident of the Israeli colonial outpost built on Palestinian land not far from her village. Al-Deek caused no injuries to anyone in the incident.
Her lawyer has stated that at the time of the incident, the young woman was experiencing severe postpartum depression for which she was being treated by a psychiatrist.
She already had a baby daughter and was pregnant again at the time of her arrest.
The lawyer told al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper that al-Deek had been experiencing “dark thoughts” and had acted “without being fully aware” of what she was doing.
Al-Deek’s family has told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that she has bipolar disorder and depression.
Her family described disruptive and violent behavior, bouts of severe depression and threats of self-harm. She would often have no memory of such episodes, according to her family.
This led her family to seek care from two psychiatrists. Despite this history, a doctor appointed by the Israeli military court declared al-Deek fit to stand trial.
The Israeli military court system that will ultimately decide al-Deek’s fate is only used against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settlers living in the same territory are afforded the relative protections of Israel’s civilian court system – a glaring example of how Israeli apartheid functions.
With their absence of due process and basic fairness, the military courts have a near-100 percent conviction rate against Palestinians.