April17th 2013, Palestinian Prisoners Day.
This year in Gaza city, A replica Israeli jail has been erected on the site of the former “Saraya” Prison.
.The former prison dates back to the 1930’s when it was under British rule and has subsequently come under Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian rule ( firstly the PA and then handed over to Hamas after 2007)
Many of Saraya’s original concrete cellblocks and interrogation rooms were destroyed over the years by Israeli air strikes, although some cells still remain standing. These cells differ in sizes , some were 1.5m x 3m and held up to 6 people, another being 3mx5m and held as many as twenty! There are also rooms still standing where the torture of prisoners took place, hooks on walls where prisoners were stretched to standing on their toes for hours on end.
Dotted throughout the site are many pictures , posters and paintings depicting the different torture techniques used on the prisoners.There are posters of prisoners, former and current and the list of names of all the Palestinian prisoners . Waed , Captive and liberators society, built rows of tents it says resemble detention camps still in use in Israel’s nearby Negev desert. There are watchtowers surrounded by barbed wire, people on hand at all times to guide you around, explaining all. In another section, a tent is being used to display photographs, art work, paintings etc , some of them by the prisoners themselves, some of them depicting the prisoners, male and female.
Quotes taken from Reuter’s:
“When I came in I was overcome by the memories and the feelings of suffering prisoners are undergoing,” said Zeyad Jouda, a former detainee at Saraya who was guiding visitors.”By being here I am conveying my story to people who are visiting to increase their solidarity with prisoners. We are trying to explain to them what detention and what the cells were like.”
Salwa al-Mashharawi froze briefly at one of the prison room windows where she used to visit her two sons when they served time there during Israel’s occupation. “I recalled the cries, the tears and the pain – but no regret,” she said as women around her chanted, “God is Great.”