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Israel Releases Mays Abu Ghosh, Palestinian Student Jailed for Membership in Leftist Campus Group

Abu Ghosh—imprisoned for 15 months after joining a banned college organization that opposes Israel's illegal occupation—described torture by her jailers. 

Mays Abu Ghosh, who spent 15 months in Israeli prison, was released on November 30, 2020. (Photo: Ultra Palestine/YouTube screen grab)

Mays Abu Ghosh embraces a loved one just after her release from 15 months in torturous Israeli custody on November 30, 2020. (Photo: Ultra Palestine/YouTube screen grab)

A Palestinian journalism student imprisoned by Israeli security forces for joining a banned leftist campus group was released Monday after 15 months behind bars.

"I want to tell everyone what happened with me during the interrogation and torture period. Not as something that has happened to me but for any Palestinian to know what to expect when Israel arrests them."
—Mays Abu Ghosh

Palestine Chronicle reports 23-year-old Mays Abu Ghosh of the Qalandiya refugee camp in the illegally occupied West Bank was taken from Damon Prison to the Israeli military checkpoint at Jalameh, where she was released into the arms of waiting relatives and other former female prisoners of the occupation forces. 

Abu Ghosh, who studied at Birzeit University, was arrested in August 2019 and charged with being a member of the Democratic Progressive Student Pole, the campus arm of the Marxist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the second-largest Palestine Liberation Organization faction after Fatah. 

Democratic Progressive Student Pole is banned by Israeli occupation forces as a "terrorist organization," which critics say is a dubious designation divorced from the reality of the group's nonviolent collegiate activities. 

According to the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, such "arbitrary designations may be issued at any time by an Israeli military commander of occupation forces in the West Bank, and are used as a pretext to round up, detain, and violently attack Palestinian organizations and movements."

"Almost all Palestinian political parties are similarly labeled by the Israeli occupation," the group added. 

Al Jazeera reports Abu Ghosh was also charged with "communicating with an enemy" for participating in a conference on the right of return of the more than 700,000 refugees ethnically cleansed from Palestine during and after the period when Israel declared its independence in 1948. 

Abu Ghosh was imprisoned in the notorious Maskobiyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem, where she said she endured torture including stress positions, slapping, being forced to listen to the screams of other prisoners being tortured, and threats that she would be sent home paralyzed or mentally broken.

"I want to tell everyone what happened with me during the interrogation and torture period," Abu Ghosh told Al Jazeera on Tuesday. "Not as something that has happened to me but for any Palestinian to know what to expect when Israel arrests them."

Abu Ghosh isn't the first member of her family to be targeted by Israel. In January 2016 her 16-year-old brother was killed by occupation forces for perpetrating a stabbing attack. Israeli troops destroyed her family's home after the incident, a common practice condemned by Israeli and international human rights groups, the United Nations, and others as an illegal form of collective punishment. 

In 2019 Abu Ghosh's parents were interrogated and her 17-year-old brother was held in administrative detention—imprisonment without charge or trial—for four months.

Addameer, an advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners, says 40 women are among the more than 4,500 Palestinians were jailed by Israel as of last month, with around 370 of them held in administrative detention.

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