In the Name of Peace for Palestine: Free Maryam Ibrahim

Editorial

When six foreign ministers of the Persian Gulf met last week with their colleagues from Jordan, Egypt, and the USA they spoke also about a need to bring peace to Palestine.

A joint statement from the so-called six-plus-two ministers and the USA Secretary of State serves as a documentary reminder that there is no peace in Palestine and that the refusal of USA authorities to grant amnesty to Palestinian families in Texas is cruel and unusual punishment that criminalizes children born into Palestinian heritage.

The USA bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is therefore contributing to the scope and cruelty of the Palestinian conflict by inflicting imprisonment upon Texas children.

In this regard, we think especially about 8-year-old Maryam Ibrahim who nearly died from chemical warfare when she was a toddler in Palestine, who has since lived in fear of uniforms, and who is now being subjected to mental torture every evening at 10pm when she is taken by uniformed officials to a cell that she cannot share with her pregnant mother.

Nothing about this situation at the T. Don Hutto prison camp is tolerable. In light of the recent pleas jointly spoken with Persian Gulf diplomats, the USA Secretary of State should intervene directly in behalf of Maryam Ibrahim and signal the intentions of the USA to make peace for Palestinian children wherever they live. Notes

Excerpt from the Gulf Cooperation Council-Plus-Two Ministerial Joint Statement, Jan. 16, 2007, copied from USA State Dept. web site.

The participants agreed that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains a central and core problem and that without resolving this conflict the region will not enjoy sustained peace and stability. The participants affirmed their commitment to achieving peace in the Middle East through a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and noted that the foundation for such an outcome includes the Arab Peace Initiative, UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, and the Road Map. The participants called on the parties to abide by and implement previous agreements and obligations, including the Agreement on Movement and Access and to seek to fulfill their obligations under the Sharm el-Sheikh Understandings of 2005. The participants expressed their hope that the December 2006 meeting between the Palestinian President and the Israeli Prime Minister will be followed by concrete steps in this direction. The participants welcomed the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, and hope that it would lead to a full resumption of negotiations aiming at reaching a comprehensive peace agreement between them as a step towards achieving comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The participants affirmed their commitment to support development of the Palestinian economy, building and strengthening the institutions of the Palestinian state.

Excerpt from Salaheddin Ibrahim’s plea for asylum, archived at the Texas Civil Rights Review.

During summer 2000 the Israelis attacked Al Fandaqumiyah with tanks, airplanes and gunfire. I was away from the house when the attack started, and ran home. I went up on the roof. The Israelis fired gas bombs and one of them broke the window of my kitchen and fell inside the house. I came down from the roof and threw the bomb back outside. It was hot, but not too hot to scoop up and quickly throw out. The children were sick and Hanan and I ran with them out of the house. Maryam, who was two years old, was overcome by the gas and unconscious.

I ran with the children and my wife with shooting all around us, and the children were crying and my wife was crying. We stayed outside in the olive grove until the Israeli troops left the village. Then we went back in the house. Maryam had awakened but she was very sick. She had great difficulty breathing. I called my neighbor and asked him to come with me to the pharmacy to buy medicine for Maryam. I was afraid and wanted the neighbor Abdel Ba Set Raba to come just so I would feel safer. I intended to explain the problem to the pharmacist so that he could provide what Maryam needed.

I drove to the pharmacy. There were two others from my village in the pharmacy, but while we were in the pharmacy the Israeli soldiers came in and ordered us out. When we went out they confiscated our identity cards. The soldiers told me to go remove an object in the street, but I told them I had to take medicine to my daughter. They thought the object might be a mine or a booby trap. They cursed me and told me to do what they ordered me to do.

I refused and they shot near my head and demanded that I go. I went and recovered the object that was in the street. It was just a bag. Then they forced us to sweep the street clean. After about 45 minutes the soldiers left. I went into the pharmacy and got some pills that were supposed to enable Maryam to breathe. I gave her the medicine and she recovered. . . .

Maryam is 4 years old [in the year of the statement, 2002]. She is afraid of policemen in uniform, but the older children understand that they are safe in the United States. In Palestine, when the older children heard shooting or saw helicopters or Israeli soldiers, they would cry and run into the house and pull the bed clothes over their heads. They often were afraid to go to school, and, if they were too terrified to go, we would let them stay at home.

In November 2000 the Israelis attacked our village, while Hanan and the children were in our olive grove harvesting the olives. The children began to cry. Our neighbor had a small boy, Muraweih, 12 or 13 years old, and the Israelis caught him in the street. He was just about one meter tall. He did not run because he was afraid the Israelis would kill him. When Hamzeh heard that they had caught Muraweih, he was terrified, because he thought they would capture him, too.

Al Fandaqumiyah has a main street that runs the length of the town from the entrance. Our house was behind the entrance. The school was at the other end. Some of the Israelis remained at the entrance, and others stormed down the street. The Israelis took Muraweih toward the entrance to the town. The child was crying pitifully. His father Yousef, a man with white hair, tried to wrest his son from the soldier who was holding his arm. An Israeli officer saw what a little boy he was and ordered the soldier to let him go.

On another occasion, the Israelis came down the mountain behind the town, near the school. When they started shooting, all the children ran from the school. The young ones, including Hamzeh and Rodaina, ran crying toward home. I went toward the school and met them in the middle of town. They clung to me and would not let go, and begged me not to leave them, and I took them home. When they reached home, they said they never wanted to go to school again.

I was hoping the situation would improve. It did not improve, however, and the Israeli occupying forces continue to kill and dispossess the Palestinian people just for being Palestinian. My son Hamzeh, who now is 11, has nightmares and wakes up in terror in the night. Rodaina, who is 9, also wakes up in the night. They are fascinated by the news on television, and know the Israelis have killed many children. Hamzeh is terrified at the possibility of having to return home.

Sometimes the children cry while watching the television news. When I was told I could apply for asylum I decided to try to keep my family in the United States.

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