Walid Al-Hodali in “Curtains of Darkness”
Ninety Days in Israeli Prison Cells
By Murad Al-Sudani
Hot leaves turning in its flames…these were the words that Walid Al-Hodali sent from the Hidarim Prison while serving his sentence of thirteen years in the occupation’s Bastilles. You could hardly decode what Al-Hodali’s hands wrote in the cells’ darkness..
At that point, we in the “House of Poetry” endeavored on turning Al-Hodali’s papers, which were carried on the moans and pains of the sick during in the depths of the occupation’s prisons. In the year 2001, “The Livings’ Graveyard – Testimonies from the Detention” was issued and won a lot of attention for being able to expose the dark corners of the detained Palestinian movement.
Then Al-Hodali is them released from prison and we meet him only to receive “Curtains of Darkness – Ninety Days of Flaming Confrontation in the Israeli Prison Cells… The book delineates the personal detention experience of the now freed Walid Al-Hodali… The story starts from the minute he was detained along with his group after executing an operation against settlers and Al-Hodali continues the story line in detail, exposing the Israeli methods that attempt to bolt the resistance soul and push it towards hopelessness, hopelessness, and sedation...
Soon, “Curtains of Darkness” will be published by the Palestinian Institute for National Guidance, becoming the first book in the series “Detention Camps and Prisons”, which is part of the Institute’s efforts to document the detained Palestinian movement and gather the Palestinian story versus the Israeli story/version…
With what it carries in terms of the richness of detail and taking confrontation to the limits of direct defiance of the Israeli jailer, “Curtains of Darkness” presents a live picture of the forms of physical and moral torture that Palestinian detainees are exposed. In his publication of the book, Al-Hodali clarifies that this novel was written at a time when Israel had changed its interrogation methods from those of physical and psychological violence to psychological violence, except for special cases that require obtaining a special permission to use physical torture. Al-Hodali also confirms that this decision was well though out and took the Israeli side’s interests in consideration. Consequently, the writer states, it is subject to changes or a full return to the old methods, if Israeli interests call for that.
While turning through the book’s corners, we can almost smell and touch Al-Hodali’s inner dialogue as well as that with his group, his questions and apprehensions, the moments of anticipation prior to interrogation, the prison’s “birds” (an expression used for planted informants), as well as the occupation’s tools of extracting confessions from the detainees.
Walid Al-Hodali wrote the following about the circumstances of writing “Curtains of Darkness”:
“The idea came at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and after it became clear that new detainees in the Asqalan Camp were repeatedly committing the same mistakes, which coincided with the [Israeli] High Court of “Justice” decision prohibiting violent means during interrogations, except with special cases and upon obtaining a court permission in this regard…
Work began with a group that contributed in collecting the largest amount of detention stories possible, which contained an enormous amount of varied experiences in this regard. We held many meetings with new detainees during which we tried to track the methods of this confrontation and in an attempt to understand what it has come to…”
He went on to say, “After many months of monitoring and tracking, I took it upon myself to handle transforming them into literary form by condensing the experience into a comprehensive one that could be presented usefully and in summary…
Once the writing concluded, a committee was formed to study the content and it submitted its observations and instructions.. This committee was composed of persons specialised and experienced in this field.. I made the required adjustments then we had a final reading after which the copy was smuggled to the outside. Fortunately, there was an additional copy that could be confiscated during one of the occupation’s inspection raids.
In summary, the atmosphere was charged with a general annoyance from the veteran detainees because of the old-new traps in which most of the detainees who arrived at the Asqalan prison arrived. This was a strong motive for us to think and work on concluding this work, lest it contribute to a practical culture that would bridge the gaps.
In 176 medium-size pages, Al-Hodali revealed his spiritual fluctuations and inner thoughts in a heated confrontation with the Israeli interrogation teams. The book was divided in five chapters (A Cell’s Fluctuations, Interrogation Tricks, The Cell Once Again, An Enticing Deal and Inside the Prison). The writer dedicated the book for Zaloom and Ibrahim Nawahdha’s struggle as well as the detainees in the Asqalan and Hadrim prisons who contributed to this book’s successful publication.