Qalqilya Man Arrested for Imprisoning Daughter
An Arab man in the northern Samarian village of Qalqilya was arrested Monday for imprisoning his daughter in a bathroom for nine years.
Baraa Melhem, who a Palestinian Authority social worker described the woman as "beaten, barely fed, and only let out at night" to the Associated Press, was freed by PA security forces on Saturday.
According to the social worker, Hala Sheim, she was given only a blanket, a radio, and a razor blade by her father, who encouraged her to kill herself.
"It's a miracle she didn't go mad. She had a small radio that she used to listen to programs. She was aware of herself - of her own mental health. She said the radio was her only friend in the darkness," said Shreim.
The social worker said Baraa was well-spoken and up-to-date on current affairs because she listened so intently to the radio.
The woman was found by Shreim and the police in a small bathroom with a tiny window. She wrapped herself in a blanket for warmth, and her father also gave her used clothes.
Baraa told the Hebrew-language Maariv, "I want them to put him in an underground bathroom, so he doesn't see the light of day for 11 years, without food and water, to let him go through what I went through."
Baraa told Maariv that she stopped asking to see her mother - who had remarried and moved to a different town - because her father would beat her every time she made the request.
Shreim said Baraa's mother frequently asked to see her daughter, but her ex-husband would make up excuses why she wasn't available and told the mother to mind her own business.
Ultimately it was Baraa's paternal aunt who persuaded Shreim to alert the police.
Shreim told AP that the father - Arab Israeli Hassan Melhen, 49 - created a culture of fear and silence among his family, who were terrified of even speaking about the imprisoned girl.
He was remarried and and two other children, aged 11 and 18, Shreim said. His new family was also locked in the house when he wasn't around, she added.
However, PA police say they have no intention of prosecuting the father and have already handed him over to the Israeli police to deal with.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the father was being held in an Israeli jail pending a court hearing on Wednesday. His wife has also been detained for questioning.