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Crowds in Bethlehem celebrate Palestinian woman's release from Israeli prison

Aug. 25, 2016 4:27 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 25, 2016 6:21 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- 19-year-old Dunya Ali Musleh was released from prison Wednesday evening after serving nine months in Israeli custody, and was met by Palestinian crowds welcoming her home in Bethlehem’s al-Duheisha refugee camp.

The celebration, organized by the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), started at the Palestinian security checkpoint in the town of Beit Sahour where the head of the Former Prisoners Organization, Muhammad al-Zaghloul, along with several former Palestinian prisoners, received Musleh.

The crowds marched through the streets of Bethlehem, arriving at al-Duheisha.

Women celebrated Musleh’s return and carried the recently released prisoner on their shoulders, joining a solidarity sit-in organized for hunger-striking prisoners to celebrate prisoner Bilal Kayid ending his hunger strike Wednesday after securing a release date.

Musleh told the crowd she was happy to be released, and expressed her support for Kayid’s “victory” in Israeli prisons. The 19-year-old also highlighted her sadness for other Palestinian women still being held in Israeli prisons, who she said were assaulted and searched by Israeli forces on a daily basis.

Musleh also brought a message to the crowds from Palestinian prisoners she was incarcerated with. “Freedom first, national unity second, and the support of Palestinian prisoners third,” she said.

The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported earlier this month that 41 Palestinian women, including 12 minors, were being held in Israel’s HaSharon prison, with some suffering from deteriorating health conditions, adding that Israel’s treatment of women prisoners was against international law.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 10,000 Palestinian women and girls have been detained by Israeli forces over the past 45 years. In 2015 alone, Israeli forces detained 106 Palestinian women and girls, which according to the group represented a 70 percent increase compared to detention numbers in 2013.

Since a wave of political unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October, leading to Israeli forces carrying out mass detention campaigns, the number of Palestinian women and girls detained by Israeli forces has risen sharply.

As of July, Addameer reported that 62 Palestinian women and girls were being held in Israeli prisons.

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