Eleven Palestinian prisoners have been helped to freedom by protesters in Egypt, as chaos grips the country.
Three of them have arrived home and joined their families.
Before the ongoing riots in Egypt, there were 39 Palestinians being held in the country’s jails. Some of those have taken advantage of the instability, and broken out.
Hassan Wishah was one of those. He reached Al-areish in Sinai, the headed for the Gaza border, which he crossed via one of the smuggling tunnels, to be reunited with his family on the other side.
Hassan arrived home at the Al-breij Camp after three years of imprisonment. He was arrested in Egypt while trying to sneak into Israel to carry out a paramilitary operation.
“I met one of the brothers from the political prison in Sinai, and asked him to take me as far as Al-areish, and there some brothers were waiting for me. They took me through the tunnel and brought me back to Gaza”, says Hassan.
The location of several other Palestinian detainees remains unknown.
In Muhammed’s home village, his family are still anxiously waiting for him.
“During the recent events in Egypt, my brother Muhammed managed to escape with some 11 Palestinian prisoners being held in the Abu Za-bal jail. Political prisoners there also managed to escape. We still don’t know what happened to him, and what he might be going through. We are worried for his life, and afraid he’ll be jailed again or that things might become worse for him. We ask God to bless us and bring him back safely”, says Imad Es-sayyed, who’s coordinating a group of families waiting for prisoners to come home.
Al-mu’tasem Waleed Al-quqa is one of the leaders in Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades. He was arrested in August 2004 for entering Egypt illegally.
Al-mu’tasem was considered a senior Palestinian prisoner in Egypt. He arrived home after angry protesters opened up Egypt’s jails, releasing hundreds of detainees.
“The conditions inside jails were difficult, we were in solitary confinement in very small cells without enough room for a mattress. After we got out of prison, the locals helped us to reach the border, and thank God we managed to enter Gaza. Five people who were with us couldn’t, they were arrested at an Egyptian army checkpoint, and we don’t know what happened to them”, says Al-mut’asem.
The detainees being held in Egypt had until now been a major source of disagreement between Gaza and Cairo.
However, the challenges are not yet over for Palestinian prisoners still trying to make their way home.