The Palestinian Sperm Smugglers

Ben Ehrenreich in Topic:

Ashraf had been gone for more than a decade when he and Fat’hiya first heard about a fertility clinic in Ramallah that had begun helping the wives of Palestinian prisoners become pregnant with sperm smuggled out of Israeli jails. (Israeli prisoners are permitted conjugal visits; Palestinians are not.) The couple discussed it, Fat’hiya says, but neither of them was convinced it was a good idea.

The next time she visited Ashraf, she says with a smile, “he surprised me.” Prisoners are allowed to buy gifts of food for their visitors. Ashraf handed her a bag of cookies. “He had it there,” already prepared, she said. “He said, ‘Do it.’”

Fat’hiya stands, jogs suddenly from the room, and comes back with the wrapper from a pack of chocolate hazelnut Quadratini wafers, the very pack she smuggled out of the prison that day. Her son, Amir, who is now five, wide-eyed and serious, squirms on the sofa beside her. “That’s why he’s so sweet,” she says, pulling the boy to her lap.

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