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Third longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israel begins 39th year behind bars

Sixty-six-year-old Muhammad Altus, the third longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israel, began today his 39th year behind bars, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).

Altus, from Jabaa village in the south of the West Bank, was arrested on October 6, 1985 for resisting the Israeli occupation as part of Fatah fighters. He was shot and severely injured when he was arrested and then sentenced to life in prison.

His wife died in 2015 after being in a coma for one year and he has three children who were small when he was arrested but today are married and have brought him nine grandchildren, but they cannot visit him in prison because they are second-degree relatives.

According to the PPS, Altus is one of 26 Palestinians who have been in prison since before the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993 between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel and whom Israel has refused to set free in any prisoners’ release or exchange deal.

During his long years of detention, Altus was subjected to all forms of torture and revenge; aside from the serious injury he sustained during his arrest in 1985, he was subjected to harsh and long interrogations, his family home was demolished three times, and he was denied release in any prisoners’ swap deal that were made during his incarceration, the latest of which was the prisoners swap of 2014, when Israel reneged on the release of the fourth batch of prisoners, which included Altus.

The first two longest-serving Palestinian resistance prisoners in Israel are Karim Younis, who has been behind bars for 38 years, and his cousin, Maher Younis, also 38 years behind bars, from the Palestinian town of Ara inside Israel.

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