Palestinian men imprisoned for “security offenses” against Israel have fathered dozens of children with the help of sperm smuggled out of prison to a West Bank fertility center, according to a published report.
According to The Media Line news agency, at least 63 Palestinian children have been born via this ad-hoc method of in vitro fertilization since 2003.
In one case, Ra’fat Al-Qarawi, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for shooting Jewish residents of the West Bank, used sperm spirited out of jail in a cookie tin to father a child in 2013. Al-Qawari’s brother, Mohammed, said Ra’fat’s wife had suffered three miscarriages before he opted for the smuggling method.
Mohammed Al-Qarawi said Israeli authorities barred the couple from seeing each other for 18 months when they found out about the child.
“They wanted to have a DNA test done to confirm if the baby was indeed my brother’s, but he refused and the matter went away,” he said.
Israel Prison Service spokesperson Hana Herbst told The Media Line that the IPS checks every object that enters or leaves prison.
“Any illegal smuggling attempts are dealt with by disciplinary or administrative means,” she said.
Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoner Affairs Minister, described the practice as a “revolution” that helps prisoners “strive to maintain families, and this is a great challenge taking into account the harsh reality inside Israeli prisons.”
The treatments are carried out on the wives of prisoners with the permission of the Palestinian Authority’s religious council. The fertility center in the city of Nablus provides the procedure — which typically costs around $3,000 — free of charge, but requires two relatives from each side of the family to verify the identity of the father.