Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"A Nightmare of Stolen Dreams" for Arab American and His Fiancee

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"A Nightmare of Stolen Dreams" for Arab American and His Fiancee

Article excerpt

Khalil Shatara is an American citizen who was born in the West Bank Palestinian town of Ramallah and who has lived in Chicago since 1976. In the summer of 1987, during a three-month visit to his family in Ramallah, he met and fell in love with Rula Abu-Duhou, a 19-year-old honors student at Bethlehem University. They became engaged shortly after they met, and began making plans to marry on April 10, 1988. Khalil had returned to Chicago when, in his words, "Our nightmare of stolen dreams began, at 2 am on Jan. 2, 1988."

The Nightmare Begins

That night some 200 Israeli soldiers stormed Rula's home in Ramallah. In the presence of her mother, Um Samaan, and her sisters, Ibtisam, Jameela and Maha, the Israeli commander ordered two Israeli female soldiers to take Ruin to her room to get dressed. Without any explanation to her family, they blindfolded her, handcuffed her hands tightly behind her back, and placed a smelly nylon cloth over her head. After this, the soldiers threw her into their jeep, where they kicked her in the head with their heavy boots, and beat her with their rifle butts as they drove her from Ramallah to Jerusalem.

When she arrived at the Russian Compound, known as Moscobia Detention Center in Jerusalem, Ruin was stripped and thrown into a specially dug hole measuring three by five feet. She remained in this suffocating, dark and filthy hole for nearly two days. After she was taken out, her captors took her outside, and tied her hands to a tree branch, and left her there, naked, for another 36 hours.

Then Rula was taken into an interrogation room where she was questioned by teams of police continuously for more than 96 hours. They accused her of affiliation with a banned political party, and of transporting weapons, accusations which to this day she vehemently denies. To each question, Rula replied, "I don't know why I'm here." The Israeli soldiers then placed Ruin in a revolving chair that had sharp pins protruding from every angle so that she could not lean in any direction without injuring herself. During the next eight hours of pain, Rula was made to listen to the continual sounds of water dripping from the ceiling and, at times, falling onto her head.

Although Rula continued to deny the charges made against her by the Israeli military authorities, they forced her to sign a confession written in Hebrew, a language she does not understand. After a year of pretrial imprisonment, Ruin was finally tried and convicted on the basis of the coerced, false confession. She was sentenced by the Israeli authorities to a prison term of 25 years. She is serving this term at Hasharon Prison in Telmond. …

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