Conflicts & War

The Palestinians smuggling sperm out of jail to raise children

By Joan Mas Autonell

Gaza, Jul 26 (EFE).- In a small house in the poor neighborhood of Al-Shuja’iyya, in Gaza City, lie Rasmiya Shamali’s quadruplets. She became pregnant after her husband Ahmed, who has been imprisoned in Israel since 2008, managed to smuggle his sperm out of prison.

The practice has become more common among Palestinian prisoners serving long-term or life sentences in Israeli jails, where they are not allowed conjugal visits.

Born in May, Rasmiya and Ahmed Shamali’s children are not the first children to be born this way and the practice dates back to 2012 when “the first successful attempt to conceive a child by smuggling sperm,” took place, a spokeswoman for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Ministry of Detainees tells EFE.


Since then, some 120 children have been born through artificial insemination with sperm smuggled out for some 70 Palestinian prisoners, a process that is financed by the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees through specialized clinics and laboratories and monitored by gynecologists.

It is no easy task though, and circumventing Israeli prison security checks and getting enough quality sperm out of prisons is a challenge.

Rasmiya, 38, had been trying to get pregnant with Ahmend using this method since 2018.

The two first attempts failed, but the third time they were lucky.

The successful attempt saw Ahmed’s semen smuggled out of prison through a fellow inmate who had finished his prison term.

Rasmiya was then fertilized and after a complicated quadruplet pregnancy had three boys and a girl named Rakan, Rayan, Abdul Rahim and Najah.

They were born prematurely at seven months in Jerusalem and after spending over 45 days in an incubator are now in their Gaza family home, where their grandmother Najah Shamali longs for her son’s return.

“It’s a victory against the Israeli occupation,” says Shamali, who is looking after her four grandchildren on a hot summer afternoon.

The family — which includes two other sons (17 and 15) who were born before Ahmed was imprisoned — is in “a difficult situation” and survives on the benefits Palestinian authorities give prisoners and their families, which is “insufficient to support the children” or pay for the daily milk they need, the grandmother says.


Israeli law allows the conception of children in prison through conjugal visits. These are authorized for regular prisoners if they comply with the required rules, but do not apply to so-called security prisoners, who are under more restrictive conditions, a spokeswoman for the Israel Prison Service told EFE.

There are currently some 4,000 security prisoners and most of them are Palestinians imprisoned for political reasons with sentences of dozens of years in prison or life imprisonment on terrorism charges.

Walid Daqqa, a high-profile Palestinian prisoner who has been jailed for 39 years, had a son with his wife using his contraband sperm over three years ago.

Daqqa, 61, is suffering from terminal cancer and is serving a life sentence for his involvement in the murder of an Israeli soldier four decades ago, but in 2017 was sentenced to two more years for helping smuggle cell phones into prison.

Amid his deteriorating health, his family, human rights groups and doctors are calling for his immediate release, a request that has so far been rejected by Israeli authorities.

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