JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian woman and mother of four turned herself in to serve a seven-month prison sentence at Israel’s Russian compound in Jerusalem on Monday, after Israeli authorities charged her with “illegally” staying in Jerusalem after she was banned from the city for being a security threat.
Shifa al-Shaludi Ubeido, 37, originally from Hebron, holds a West Bank ID and had been residing in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of SIlwan with her husband and four children for 18 years under the “family reunification” status in Israel.
After her husband married another woman and left al-Shaludi to take care of her four children alone, her residency status under the reunification law was revoked and she remained in Jerusalem on temporary permits.
Al-Shaludi was detained along with one of her sons in October 2015, when Israeli soldiers raided her home in Silwan. She was accused of incitement, involvement with stone-throwing, and assaulting an Israeli police officer.
She spent 40 days in Israeli prison, was released on bail, and sentenced to 11 months of house arrest for the charges, lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud told Ma’an Tuesday. Her Jerusalem permit was also officially revoked for “security reasons,” restricting her from entering Jerusalem for three years.
On Dec. 1, an Israeli magistrate’s court sentenced Shaludi to seven months in prison for the charges, and an additional five months on probation for three years.
“Since the judgment was given in early December until I turned myself in on Monday, I have been thinking of my children, and the days have seemed as long as years,” Mahmoud quoted al-Shaludi as saying.
Shaludi has a 9-year-old daughter, Sidra, and three sons: Samir, 18, Fadi, 14, and Basil.
“My mother and my mother-in-law will hopefully take care of my children who need daily care,” she said.
Shaludi asserted that the 11 months of house arrest weren’t any less painful than imprisonment.
“I expect that house arrest is even more painful. I was deprived of leaving my house for 11 months while my sons Samir and Fadi were being detained in Israeli jail for seven months and 100 days respectively, and I was not able to visit them, nor could I visit my family in Hebron.”
“I don’t know what I will do after I complete my sentence. My home is in Jerusalem and my children study in Jerusalem schools. Today I am turning myself into the unknown, and after my release, yet another unknown awaits me.”
Shaludi’s daughter Sidra wrote in a letter she gave to her mother as she bid her farewell outside the Russian compound detention center: “I love you Mom… and I will miss you… I promise I will study well.”
“I can’t live without my mother,” Sidra said Monday. “She was previously jailed for 40 days, which I counted minute by minute, and now she will be serving an even longer period. I don’t know what I will do.”
Israeli forces routinely ban Palestinians from Jerusalem for purported security reasons, as the some 3.5 million Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip must rely on Israeli-issued permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel.
Israel’s permit regime has often times split up Palestinian families when several members hold different residency statuses, a system which Palestinian nonprofit Badil has said rests on “entirely arbitrary distinctions.”
The reunification of Palestinian families has also faced increasing challenges since 2003 when an ‘emergency’ provision to Israel’s Family Reunification Law
, which grants automatic legal status to non-Israelis who marry Israeli citizens or residents, was adopted into Israeli law and has since been renewed every year.
Israel’s emergency “Citizenship and Entry into Israel” provision prohibits Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip from automatically obtaining legal status in Israel or East Jerusalem through family unions.
The law also applies to foreign nationals from Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and can apply to other nationalities originating from countries the Israeli government deems a security threat.
However, the law has primarily affected Palestinians with East Jerusalem residency status in Israel and Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20 percent of the Israeli population and regularly marry Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.