Released Jordanian prisoner met by welcoming crowds at crossing

Abu Jaber
Abu Jaber is received by his family at the border. (Photo: Jordan News)
KING HUSSEIN BRIDGE, Al-KARAMA — Abdullah Abu Jaber, a Jordanian who has been incarcerated in an Israeli prison for over twenty years, crossed the King Hussein Bridge border crossing to Jordan on Tuesday, where he was met with family members weeping tears of joy, media representatives, and other observers. اضافة اعلان

Abu Jaber, a 44-year-old from Baqaa refugee camp, was the longest-serving Jordanian prisoner in an Israeli prison. His mother, father, and sister have passed away since he was incarcerated. He was arrested while taking part in the 2000 Intifada during a visit to relatives in the occupied West Bank.

Speaking to media outlets just after his release, Abu Jaber said: “My deepest thanks go to the government and leadership of Jordan, His Majesty King Abdullah, and the people of Jordan.”

“I cannot describe how much I am proud of the people of Jordan, who stood in solidarity with the Palestinians,” he said. “It showed that the people of Jordan and Palestine are one, we share the same blood and dignity.”

“We, as Jordanian prisoners, are facing unbelievably tough conditions in the Israeli prisons,” he added. “It is very hard, every bit of it.”

He also said that, “I consider myself as a Palestinian. Palestine must be free, and the land must earn its liberty.”

“Resistance shall stand strong until the day that injustice and aggression are eliminated.”

“I can’t describe what I'm feeling now. I want to cry but I can't cry,” said Muhammad Abu Jaber, Abdullah’s 51-year old brother. “He’s not only my brother but a friend. It’s been twenty years waiting for this moment. We cooked him everything he likes at home, everything is ready for him.”

“When we were children, we used to go out,” Muhammad recalled. “We used to go hunting, we used to have so much fun. He loved Baqaa camp and he loved the people in Baqaa camp — he was a very popular child. A lot of his nephews don’t know him, they only know him by pictures. And today they are waiting for him just as much as I am.”

“Today is a national celebration, and a victory over [Israel],” said Mustafa Abu Jaber, Abdullah’s 50-year old cousin, in an interview with Jordan News. “Today he emerges victorious, and we beat jail and injustice.”

“It is natural for those who want to free their country to be jailed. And I feel proud of my cousin. However, the joy of seeing him is incomplete, because we still have other Jordanians jailed by the Israeli occupation,” Mustafa added. “We will only be happy when all of them are freed.”

Mustafa described his cousin in his youth. “When he was a child, he was a practicing Muslim. He loves his country. He loves Palestine. He used to work as a painter.”

“When he went to the West Bank, and saw the Intifada, and Muhammad Al-Durra, he was filled with emotions and did what he could to free his country,” Mustafa went on, referencing the 2000 killing of a 12-year old Palestinian boy by an Israeli soldier, which was filmed live. “The whole land deserves much more than this”

“After all of the celebrations are over, I expect him to go visit his mom and dad’s graves,” Mustafa added. Especially because the occupation wouldn't allow visits — they could only visit him twice.”

“He was with me in middle school, in Baqaa,” recalled Member of Parliament Ahmad Sarahneh, who was awaiting Abu Jaber’s return, in an interview with Jordan News. “He was a good student and he was social and athletic. He was among the popular ones. He felt that the Palestinian cause is the root of our causes, and he did what he did out of faith in the just cause. The Israeli occupation does not recognize peace, it only recognizes injustice and violence.”

“His morale is high, and I think that after he gets his first glimpse of freedom and breathes fresh air, he will be happy,” the MP said.

“Our first arrangement for Abdullah is to get him married, because as you know, he has been in jail for 20 years and he didn’t get married,” Sarahneh added. “Then we will see what he has in mind and we will try to help him restore a normal life."

Sharouq, Abu Jaber’s 16-year old niece, told Jordan News that she’s only ever heard stories about her uncle. She heard that “he’s a good man, and a practicing Muslim who never missed a prayer.”

“He promised us many things,” she said. “He said that he will take us out and he will make it up to us. I’m very happy and joyful. We’ve been waiting for this for so long, we’ve heard so many stories.”

Sharouq was one of dozens waiting for Abu Jaber just outside the Sheikh Husein border crossing. Another observer, Mahdi Suleiman, told Jordan News that his son is the youngest Jordanian prisoner in Israel and that he came to support “the hero Abdullah Abu Jaber.”

“We used to communicate with him and learn about his condition through the Red Cross," said Younes Abu Sel, member of the Palestinian National Council.

"He left Jordan with a working permit to find a job," Abu Sel added. "When he saw the Intifada happening, he couldn’t contain his anger and he reacted with a heroic action and wounded 13 Israeli soldiers."