Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails Smuggle Sperm to Impregnate Wives
by Matt Clarke
Authorities in Israel concede there is little they can do to stop a growing practice among Palestinian prisoners: smuggling their sperm out of prison in order to impregnate their wives and father children.
Since August 2012, about 30 women in the West Bank have been successfully impregnated with their husband’s sperm smuggled out of Israeli jails, according to Dr. Salim Abu Khaizaran, president of the Razan Center for In-Vitro Fertilization in Nablus, the clinic that handles the vast majority of smuggled sperm. At least seven pregnancies have been reported by local news media at a separate in-vitro fertilization clinic in Gaza.
The reasons behind the upsurge in sperm smuggling are two-fold: women who are lonely while their husbands are incarcerated can find hope for the future by having a child and, at the same time, strike a psychological blow at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
“I know it won’t be easy raising a baby with a husband in jail, but this is our way of breaking Israel’s siege on us,” said Suad Abu Fayed, 34, referring to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. “We are challenging [Israel’s] occupation and getting something beautiful in return.”
Abu Fayed’s husband, Samir, is serving 18 years for terrorist activities. According to his brother he belongs to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, the Palestinian political movement. Abu Fayed and her husband had had no physical contact for more than 11 years when she gave birth in April 2014 to the couple’s daughter, Hurriyah, which means “freedom” in Arabic.
By using smuggled sperm to become pregnant, Abu Khaizaran said, life for prisoners’ wives can go on even though their husbands are jailed.
“People do not pay much attention to the suffering of the wives,” he stated. “We saw so many Palestinian prisoners, some of them newly married, who were sent to prison for a long time, and by the time they came out of prison, their wives were too old to have babies.”
Israeli prison authority spokesperson Sivan Weitzman said they were aware of the growing practice of smuggling sperm, but acknowledged that the Israeli government can do little to stop it.
“We have caught some prisoners attempting to smuggle sperm out, and as a consequence we have increased our searches of prisoner’s cells and of their visitors,” said Weitzman, adding that Israeli officials have no way of proving that the babies are biologically linked to prisoners.
As previously reported in PLN, an Israeli court fined Palestinian prisoner Abdul Karim Rimawi roughly $1,449 on April 10, 2014 for smuggling his sperm out of jail two years earlier. According to the Palestinian Prisoner Club Association, the court also ordered Rimawi deprived of family visits for two months. [See: PLN, Dec. 2014, p.56].
“The punishment of Rimawi is the first such kind of punishment in the history of courts,” the Association said in a statement. Rimawi is a little more than halfway through a 25-year prison term; his wife gave birth to a baby boy in 2013.
Abu Khaizaran said healthy semen can remain viable outside the body for up to 12 hours. He noted the Razan Center has received smuggled sperm in a variety of ways – inside everything from medicine containers and pen barrels to chocolate candy and rubber gloves. Abu Khaizaran said upon its arrival at the clinic, the semen is frozen until the prisoner’s wife ovulates.
Most of the women seeking in-vitro fertilization have husbands serving long sentences for taking part in deadly terror attacks. Such prisoners are required to be separated from their wives by glass partitions during their visits.
The head of Almagor, an Israeli organization that works on behalf of victims of Palestinian terror attacks, said families of Israeli victims feel pain every time they hear about the birth of another Palestinian prisoner’s baby.
“This is a great injustice,” said Meir Indor, Almagor’s director. “Those who were murdered by these terrorists will never get to marry, they will never live their lives, while those who commit the murders are in a situation where they can always start a new life.”
About 5,000 Palestinian men are serving security prison sentences imposed by Israeli courts, according to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.
Sources: www.correctionsone.com, www.washingtonpost.com, www.shanghaidaily.com
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