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This is the story of how Palestinian prisoners’ wives have turned to sperm-smuggling and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to conceive children from their husbands who are serving long-term prison sentences.

Presently, around 7,000 Palestinians are serving time in Israeli prisons, with nearly 1,000 facing sentences of 20 years or more. Conjugal visits are denied and prisoners are separated from visitors by glass panels.

Prisoners are allowed visits every two weeks and these last for only 45 minutes. Family members must be first-degree relatives. After a thorough body search, visitors are able to talk to their loved ones through a telephone from behind a glass window. Physical contact is forbidden, except for prisoners’ children, who are allowed ten minutes at the end of each visit to embrace their fathers. This is the secret way that prisoners’ sperm manages to leave the prisons. It is these women’s only hope for a family. It is also one of their opportunities to join the Palestinian resistance.

Thus, over the past two years, 30 babies have been born through IVF. The Razan Fertility Clinic in Nablus and the Al-Basma Fertility Clinic in Gaza offer the treatment to prisoners’ wives free of charge, freezing around 70 prisoners’ sperm samples and receiving more from behind prison bars.

—Antonio Faccilongo