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Israel: Court releases pregnant Palestinian prisoner Anhar al-Deek to house arrest

Military court releases mother on $12,500 bail after criticism from Palestinian officials and human rights organisations
Anhar al-Deek with her husband and daughter Julia (Twitter)

An Israeli military court ordered on Thursday the release of pregnant Palestinian prisoner Anhar al-Deek to house arrest on a 40,000 shekel ($12,500) bail.

Palestinian officials and human rights organisations have been urging Israel to immediately free Deek as she is due to give birth imminently.

Israeli law allows for newborn babies to stay with their mother in prison up until the age of two, but Judge Sivan Omer said in her ruling that staying in prison was "not an optimal situation for a newborn and could endanger the child's health".

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The Israeli army arrested Deek, 25, from the village of Kufr Nima, west of Ramallah city, while on her family’s farmlands on 8 March, when she was three months pregnant. 

Officers accused her of attempting to carry out a stabbing attack.

At the time of Deek’s arrest, her mother Aisha told Middle East Eye that her daughter had gone out for a walk on the family’s land on Raysan hill, and had been suffering from pregnancy-related depression. 

A group of Israeli soldiers attacked her there, and accused her of trying to stab them, her mother said. 

“Anhar told us that they beat her severely during her arrest, even though she was shouting that she was pregnant, but they didn’t care,” Aisha told MEE.

Deek told her lawyers that she was kept under harsh conditions and subjected to long hours of interrogation, with no consideration of her physical and psychological state.

'Calling for her mother'

Deek's family previously told MEE that since her arrest, she had been allowed only one family visit from her husband, while her mother and sister had been unable to see her. 

Aisha, 57, also described how she had spent her time looking after Deek's one-and-a-half-year-old daughter while she was in prison. 

"She wakes up at night calling for her mother, and does not find her mother near her," said Aisha.

Anhar was one of 11 Palestinian mothers held in Israeli prisons out of a total of 40 Palestinian women detained by Israel. The majority are held in Damon prison under harsh and abusive conditions, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society. 

The organisation said in a statement that when the Israeli prison administration allows children to visit, they are prevented from hugging their mothers - a situation that has worsened with the spread of Covid-19 and a lack of regular family visits.