Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

Politics and Pop Culture: Esmail arrest highlights Palestinian mistreatment, abuse

On Feb. 5, Israeli forces broke into the home of Samaher Esmail, a 46-year-old Palestinian-American woman from the town of Silwad in the occupied West Bank. Esmail was asleep in her bed when she was arrested for what the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, claims was “incitement on social media,” though she has yet to actually be charged with a crime. After she was arrested, her relatives didn’t know where she was taken.

Unfortunately, Esmail’s arrest was not the first of its kind. Since Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7, the IDF has arrested over 4,000 Palestinians from the West Bank, many of whom were detained during overnight raids. Many of those arrests have been unlawful. Over 80% of the Palestinian prisoners released during the truce in November had not been charged nor given a trial. 

However, even if the arrests were justified, the handling of them is unacceptable. While arresting Esmail, Israeli soldiers raided and destroyed the inside of her home. A video of the arrest shows her being handcuffed in the middle of the night. She was ripped out of her home while blindfolded and without her hijab.

Esmail’s family didn’t know where she was until Tuesday, when they found out she had been beaten while in Israeli custody. Worse, Esmail has cancer and was denied access to her medication despite the IDF being well-aware of her needs.

It should go without saying the IDF has an obligation to treat detainees humanely. Frankly, everyone has an obligation to treat everyone humanely, but the rules don’t seem to apply when it comes to Palestinians. To arrest someone and then refuse to administer their critical medication is abuse.

Because Esmail is a U.S. citizen, her arrest has naturally gained attention, especially from lawmakers in her home state of Louisiana. But the unfortunate reality of the situation is that many Palestinian prisoners are subject to abuse at the hands of the IDF, and their experiences deserve to be talked about just as much as the ones victimizing U.S. citizens. Esmail’s experience is an injustice that should shed light on the thousands of other Palestinian prisoners who are facing the same fate.

Suhair Barghouti was one of the prisoners released during the week-long ceasefire. During her detainment, she was also denied access to medication. 

Another former prisoner, Ramzi Abbasi, said the inmates in custody were treated as “less than the animals.” He described “beating, abusing, torturing of prisoners.”

Hanin al-Masaeed was arrested by Israeli forces in October and released in November during the hostage exchange deal. She claimed that in detainment, prisoners were beaten, threatened with rape, given one meal a day and had their mattresses and blankets taken away.

Those are just a few examples of what upwards of 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently enduring in Israeli custody and have been enduring for a long time. Regardless of whether the prisoners actually committed the crimes they are accused (albeit not convicted) of, the way they are being treated is a violation of human rights, and it needs to be talked about.

Brianna Tassiello is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the opinions expressed in this article do not represent those of The Post. Want to talk to Brianna? Email her at

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH