Family of Palestinian-American detained by Israel seeks her release. ‘I want my mother back’


JERUSALEM (AP) — The family of a Palestinian-American woman arrested by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank says they still haven’t had contact with her, more than a week after she was seized from her home in an overnight raid.

Relatives of Samaher Esmail say they are getting increasingly worried because they believe the 46-year-old woman has not received the medication she takes for her cancer treatment.

“I want my mother back,” her son, Ibrahim Esmail, told a news conference on Monday hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington.

Esmail’s family says that she was dragged out of bed in the early hours of Feb. 5. They have expressed concerns about her health because she is undergoing treatment for uterine cancer.

The Israeli military has said she was arrested for “incitement on social media,” but given no other details. The army and Israeli prison service did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Esmail’s family said Tuesday that a lawyer had visited her and reported that she was in poor condition and had been beaten. They claimed she had not received her medication.

Esmail is from Gretna, Louisiana, the same hometown of a Palestinian American teenager who was recently killed by Israeli fire in a nearby village. The death of 17-year-old Tawfic Abdel Jabbar drew an expression of concern from the White House and an uncommonly quick pledge to investigate from the Israeli police. No findings from that investigation have yet been released.

Esmail’s family said she often traveled back and forth between the West Bank and the U.S., where she managed a family-owned grocery store in Gretna and worked as a tutor at a nearby high school.

At his press conference, Ibrahim Esmail said the family had not heard from his mother and said that as of Monday, the embassy had not contacted them nor sent consular officials to visit her. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem declined to comment.

He said the family is seeking his mother’s “unconditional release” from what it says is wrongful detention.

“I want our government to be much more aware and active,” he said.


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