Fares Akram writes at Al Jazeera English:
When the Israeli army arrested Palestinian Tamer al-Zaanin a month and a half after his marriage in 2006, his wife, Hana, was still studying Sharia at the Islamic University in Gaza City.
Her husband had been sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of being an operative with Islamic Jihad. Having plenty of time with no children, Hana enrolled again in the same university after graduating; this time she is majoring in math.
But she won’t have nearly as much free time in the coming years. Last week, she gave birth to a baby boy, Hassan, through in-vitro fertilisation, marking the first case in Gaza in which a prisoner managed to impregnate his wife with sperm smuggled out of prison, following six successful births in recent years in the West Bank.
“I can’t describe how happy I am,” said the 26-year-old mother from behind a black veil. “It’s an indescribable feeling that seven years on since my husband was arrested, I gave birth from a smuggled sperm,” she added as women and relatives sat around her bed in the family hometown of Beit Hanoun.
“Sperm smuggling from inside the jails constitutes a challenge to the Israeli jailer,” said Fouad al-Khafsh of the Ahrar Centre of Prisoners’ Studies. Khafsh told Al Jazeera that dozens of prisoners, especially those serving long or life sentences, try to have children using in-vitro fertilisation.
While surfing the Internet, Hana Zaanin read about the first successful birth of a baby with sperm from a prisoner from Nablus. She admired the idea and decided to propose it to her husband.
“I spent weeks thinking of it and considering my family’s reaction,” she told Al Jazeera. “Most importantly, I did not know how Tamer, my husband, will receive my suggestion … I did not know if he will be happy or mad at me.”
Tamer, who was arrested along with two cousins in a raid at their home, is scheduled to complete his prison term in 2016. “I was encouraged to tell him after my family and Tamer’s father accepted the idea,” Hana said. “At the end of the day, the matter was up to him to agree or reject.”
Last year, Hana was allowed to visit her husband for the first time since his arrest. At the prison, she summoned up the courage to inform Tamer of the idea. “My heart sank when he paused for a few seconds, but I was relieved when I saw his smile behind the glass board separating us,” she recalled. To her surprise, Tamer nodded in agreement. “Moreover, he had also thought of telling me but was afraid of my reaction.”
But a series of challenges soon emerged. How could the semen be taken out of the prison, as Israel doesn’t allow physical contact between the prisoners and their families? And how could the sperm be kept alive for at least six hours, the time needed for families to return to Gaza after the visit?
Read more here.