Freed Prisoner Christian al-Bandak’s Date with the Sea

Palestine’s Prisoners | Pictures | Topic | Category – Torture | History | Category

PNN – Palestine News Network 19.10.11 |  Hiba Lama

Two days ago, Christian al-Bandak left his cell, saw the sunlight and the sea and smelled the air, his first breath of freedom after nine years in Israeli military prison. He left a dark, small room smelling of sardines to meet the Mediterranean Sea.

A prison photo of freed Bethlehem prisoner Christian al-Bandak (PNN Archive).
Al-Bandak, who hails from Bethlehem and has been imprisoned since 2003 with four life sentences, said it was like thunder when the jailer came in and told the prisoners about the decision to release some of them in two days.
“Until now I still can’t believe what happened,” Christian told PNN by phone. “We watched the news in prison and we saw our names on the list, but then we heard that it was not the final list or an unofficial list. We couldn’t handle our joy when we heard about our freedom.”
Christian described the feeling, as many released Palestinian prisoners do, as “joy mixed with grief.”
“I am missing my friends in prison from now, I wish they were with me today to share me the joy,” he explained. “But at the same time I know they are tough men. They are going to stay strong and determined no matter what happens.”
Christian confessed he tears up when he remembers his old days in Bethlehem. He said he remembers everything about his hometown, his family that has still not seen him. Despite the distance, he said he still has hope that he will meet them and thank them for their support during his years in prison.
“Gaza is part of Palestine,” Christian said. “At the end, I thank God for releasing me. My family [called and] gave me their best as soon as I reached Gaza. I am in the middle of celebrations we have never dreamt about before.”
For Christian, the dream came true. He told PNN he is sitting on the beach, enjoying the sun and the smell of freedom in the air, hoping to return to his city and see his family and his friends. He said he has not forgotten his brothers with whom he spent the last nine years, sharing joy, pain and dreams. He said he must work to release them and hold their struggle high.



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