Danial Tahayneh was born on August 25, in a Nablus hospital as his father remains in an Israeli prison.
The healthy baby boy was conceived through an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment with his father’s sperm that was smuggled out of prison. The father, Mohammad Mutaib Tahayneh, has served 16 out of a 19 year sentence.
Prisoner sperm smuggling is an ongoing phenomena to combat the issue of Palestinian families with men serving long prison sentences. Without it, family lineages are threatened by yet another form of the illegal occupation.
According to the Razan Fertility Center in Nablus, which has pioneered the practice, the first procedure was undertaken in 2012 for a Palestinian woman named Dallal al-Zein. However the practice has been happening in the Gaza Strip since at 2003.
Normally costing around $3,000, the Fertility Center in the West Bank conducts the procedure free of charge for prisoners’ wives.
Sperm smuggling peaked around 2015 and since then Israeli authorities have tightened their grasp on the issue. Between 2012 and 2015 alone, roughly 32 Palestinian babies have been born from IVF treatment and smuggled sperm.
If a prisoner is caught smuggling sperm, both him and his family are collectively punished. If a child is born through IVF conception, Israeli authorities do not recognize its legal status and restrict the child from visiting its father.
According to Maan News agency, at least 66 children have been born through this practice.
Women at first tended to shy away from the idea, fearing societal judgement for being pregnant while their husbands are in jail. But to their surprise they typically receive wide community and family support. Especially since Israeli authorities banned conjugal visits.
Palestine being, for the most part, a traditionally religious society, the idea of IVF conception was discussed thoroughly by religious leaders – another reason why women were hesitant at the idea.
But after the procedure gained support from the Palestinian Authority’s religious council and it officially permitted Palestinian wives to conceive through IVF treatment, Palestinian women became emboldened.
My son wants to guarantee the continuation of the presence of his family, said the father of an imprisoned Palestinian in Gaza in an Al Jazeera documentary.
What guarantees can a prisoner give, other than his sperm?, a previous prisoner asked in the documentary incredulously.
The prisoners rights group Addameer reported 5,820 Palestinian prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons.
Source: Palestine Monitor