Ramallah: The Israeli occupation of Palestine claimed another innocent victim on Friday when 10-year-old Abeer Eskafi died, her young life snuffed out before she could fulfil her dying wish — a hug from her father who is serving multiple life terms in an Israeli jail.
In a personal tragedy for the Eskafi family, which mirrors the plight of Palestinian people under occupation and oppression, the family said the little girl's untimely death only serves to highlight the heartlessness of the Israeli authorities, especially in the prison where her father is being held.
Gulf News had earlier reported how the officer in charge of the prison had prevented Abeer from hugging her father, Yousuf, on her last visit to see him.
Citing a technicality — that young Abeer had crossed the permissible age threshold — the officer had not allowed Abeer to go over to the prisoner's side of a glass barrier in the prison's meeting room so that she could spend a few moments with her father and get a hug from him as she had always done on her previous visits.
Abeer's grandfather, Abdul Rahim Abdul Mohsin Mohammad Eskafi, had told Gulf News that the little girl lived for those fleeting moments, few and far between, when she could be in the arms of her father whose sentence had no scope for parole.
After being so cruelly denied, she broke down psychologically, her health deteriorated and she went into a coma after suffering paralysis. Medical opinion concurred that psychological trauma was the reason behind the deterioration in her health.
Abdul Rahim told Gulf News that he personally held the Israelis responsible for the death of the girl.
"Next Wednesday I will visit Yousuf in his prison with his two other girls, Falasteen and Tahreer, to comfort him on Abeer's death," he said. "We are sure Yousuf has been informed about it; he must be in a miserable condition."
Wednesday is the first opportunity of a visit to the prison, coordinated by the Red Cross, Abdul Rahim said. He shuddered to think what state his son would be in.
Earlier, when Yousuf was informed about Abeer slipping into a coma he suffered a heart attack and had to be rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.
Abeer's family had placed a request via the Red Cross to the Israeli Prisoners Headquarters to allow Abeer to have a few moments with her father on humanitarian grounds, which could have surely improved her condition, as she mumbled his name even in her comatose state.
"We believe the Israelis have murdered Abeer, whose suffering started with an inhumane decision from an Israeli officer. The Israelis do not have pity even for the Palestinian children."
Abeer's funeral was attended by Eisa Qaraqi, the Palestinian Minister of Detainees Affairs, Hebron Governor Kamil Hamed, Dr Hussain Al Araj, representing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and all Palestinian official and non-official institutions.
Dr Salam Fayyad, Palestinian Prime Minister, is expected to arrive at a condolence meeting for Abeer.