The prisoners’ movement: Revolutionary school and ethical compass by Khaled Barakat

Khaled Barakat is a Palestinian writer and the international coordinator of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat. This article is translated from Arabic, and it was originally published at Al-Mayadeen:

The experiences of revolutionary strugglers behind bars constitute one of the most important sources of moral strength from which peoples’ movements and liberation forces derive a renewable source of indestructible revolutionary energy, both inside and outside the prison walls. They constitute a revolutionary school of both politics and ethics, from which spring creativity and inspiration. The stories and experiences of these strugglers affect the entire society, as their words and messages escape prison in those secret messages smuggled into open space, reaching the squares, streets, schools, alleys and cafes, from the cells that were intended to serve as narrow boxes of silence and isolation.

In the olden times, it was said: Ideas have wings, they cannot be locked in iron cages and they do not need a passport!

There are exceptional examples, in which prisoners become daily workers who carry on their shoulders the national cause, and also carry the burden of their roles as icons, symbols and “generals of patience.” Those who are imprisoned for lengthy periods of years and decades, become in the eyes of the people models of a moral compass that points to the value of freedom and the virtues of steadfastness, sacrifice and altruism.

The names and experiences are numerous; they are not limited to Nelson Mandela, Mumia Abu Jamal, Larbi Ben M’hidi, Georges Abdallah, Oscar Lopez Rivera and Ahmad Sa’adat, or the imprisoned struggler Karim Younis, who today enters his 37th year in the prisons of the Zionist colonizer.

“The prisoners are part of the resistance struggle,” says former prisoner Ahmad Abu Saud. “They do not spare any chance or opportunity to communicate with each struggler to provide them with the means and knowledge to continue the struggle. Today, for example, the struggler Karim Younis enters his 37th year in occupation prisons. He has not stopped one day from continuing his cultural, revolutionary and academic pursuits. There is no limit to the studies, lectures and cultural contributions produced by this leader in the education of the imprisoned strugglers over his years and decades behind bars.”

Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network believes that “the imprisoned leaders in Israeli jails, like Karim Younis, Khalida Jarrar, Ahmad Sa’adat, Nael Barghouthi and many other fighters against Zionism and occupation, have an influence that extends throughout the Palestinian and Arab movement and beyond, to the international struggle against colonialism, imperialism and racism. They are revolutionaries and leaders in an international movement struggling for a global alternative, for social justice and national and social liberation.”

In the beginning, the word was “freedom”

Each prisoner has a story to tell, and each story is another stone in the construction of the castle of the experience of struggle of the prisoners’ movement. The lessons learned by these prisoners converge and interact within the framework of the national liberation movement and in confrontation of a common enemy, like streams of water that come from all sides and flow together toward the river. From the first moment inside the prison, the fighters enter a new battlefield that affects their life, that of their family and that of their village, neighborhood, factory, camp and city.

The documented writen word of the creative strugglers, the writers and intellectuals behind bars, remains a witness to the history and struggles of the Palestinian people. Their literary, cultural, political, academic and artistic contributions are highly important on the “outside,” especially for the front ranks of the active Palestinian youth. This is especially true if their works of creativity and innovative concepts are made available, taken seriously and exposed to criticism outside the prison, beyond the appeal of sympathy or formal solidarity.

From within the colonial British prisons which have become the Zionist prisons, the poem “From Akka Prison,” written in charcoal on the walls of the cell, has been engraved with its timeless words in the memory of the people. The Palestinian and Arab library today includes dozens of novels, short story collections, poems, cartoons, visual art pieces, political studies, translations and important articles that have been issued from inside the prisons. There, these strugglers had the opportunity to study the colonial entity closely and learned its language, conditions and contradictions.

The novel, “The Secret of Oil,” issued last year by the prisoner Walid Daqqa, aroused the anger of the Zionist security agencies, who met his creative production with punishment and solitary confinement. This novel has been widely distributed among children and youth and is a living example of the need to move beyond the “symbolic relationship” with iconic prisoners to a deeper, closer relationship between the reader and the writer. The prisoner in this case is a creative human first and also a writer and a struggler.

Palestinian memory has cherished the martyrs of the prisoners’ movement since the martyrs of Akka prison in the 1920s and 1930s to the martyr Ibrahim al-Rai, who manifested the slogan “confession is betrayal” into a position written in blood. It is an example of the combination of the combination between consciousness and will in the dungeons of torture. The story of Al-Rai, who decided to stand firm until his last breath, is astonishingly similar to the experience of the Algerian fighter and martyr Larbi Ben M’hidi, in their resistance, sacrifices and extraordinary challenges presented to the colonial torturers and murderers. They became a revolutionary compass and a shining page in the history and conscience of their people.

(Source / 08.01.2019)

Palestinian President Approves Harsh Measures to Force Hamas to Handover Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has approved a series of harsh measures against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in an attempt to restrain the movement’s authority or force it to handover the sector.

Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinian president said that the “game was over” and informed his Egyptian counterpart, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, of his decision, including his intention to withdraw Palestinian Authority members from the Rafah border crossing.

The two leaders had met in Cairo last week.

The PA has ordered its staff to withdraw from the Rafah border with Egypt, effectively closing the main exit for Gaza residents. Hamas took over the crossing and tried to persuade Egypt to pressure the PA to back down on its decision.

But the sources confirmed that the PA was committed to its measures, which also include halting the financing of the sector.

This coincided with the Israeli government’s decision to freeze the transfer of the third installment of the Qatari grant to the Gaza Strip, worth $15 million, after the launch of a rocket from Gaza.

Meanwhile, an official in Ramallah told Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt “does not deal with Hamas as a legitimate entity.”

He added that Sisi expressed “great support” for Abbas, stressing that Cairo “deals only with the Palestinian leadership as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.

The PA has repeatedly accused Hamas of refusing to implement reconciliation. Their relationship worsened last week, with the Gaza-based movement preventing Fatah from celebrating its 54th anniversary. Abbas described Hamas leaders as “spies”.

Fatah accused Hamas security services of summoning and arresting of around 500 of its members in the Gaza Strip.

“The Hamas militia has arrested more than 500 of its leaders and sons in Gaza … because of their insistence on commemorating the anniversary,” the movement said in a statement.

(Source / 08.01.2019)

Rafah crossing to open on Tuesday

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Gaza’s Interior Ministry declared Monday that Rafah crossing will restore work on Tuesday only for one direction.

“The Egyptian side has informed us that the Rafah crossing will open on Tuesday for arrivals to Gaza and goods movement,” the Ministry said in a brief statement.

Earlier Monday, employees of the Interior Ministry have retaken control of the Rafah Crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt in a bid “to avoid a vacuum.” 

The move came one day after the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) suddenly withdrew its personnel from the terminal.

Palestinian factions have decried the PA move, warning that the withdrawal would deepen the Palestinian rift.

(Source / 08.01.2019)

Army Invades Villages In Hebron, Summon One Palestinian For Interrogation

08 Jan 11:02 AM

Israeli army jeeps invaded, on Tuesday morning, several towns in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron, and summoned one Palestinian for interrogation, in addition to installing many roadblocks.

Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers invaded Doura town, south of Hebron, before storming and searching homes, and summoned a former political prisoner, identified as Eid Ibreiwish, for interrogation.

They added that the soldiers invaded many neighborhoods in Hebron city, in addition to the towns of Ethna and Yatta, and installed roadblocks at the entrances of the towns of Halhoul and Sa’ir, and Hebron’s northern entrance.

The soldiers stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated scores of Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

On Tuesday at dawn, the soldiers abducted four Palestinians, including two children, from the West Bank governorate of Bethlehem, south of occupied East Jerusalem, after invading their homes and searching them, and summoned one for interrogation.

In related news, the soldiers abducted seven Palestinians, including a father and three of his sons, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh governorate, in central West Bank.

(Source / 08.01.2019)

Israeli Soldiers Abduct A Waqf Official In Jerusalem

08 Jan 12:59 AM

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday evening, Firas ad-Dibs, the head of the Media and Public Relations office of the Waqf and Islamic Endowment Department, in occupied Jerusalem.

The WAFA Palestinian News agency has reported that the soldiers stopped ad-Dibs, near Bab al-‘Amoud (Damascus Gate), and abducted him.

WAFA added that the soldiers cuffed the official, and took him to an interrogation center in the occupied city.

The Palestinian authority condemned the abduction of the official, and the ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinians, their homes and lands, and their holy sites in occupied Palestine, including in the occupied capital, Jerusalem.

(Source / 08.01.2019)

Father And Three Sons Among Seven Palestinians Abducted By Israeli Soldiers

08 Jan 10:15 AM

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, seven Palestinians, including a father and three of his sons, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh governorate, in central West Bank.

The PPS said the soldiers invaded Shkheidim village, north of Ramallah, before storming and ransacking many homes, and abducted Haitham Edrees, along with his sons Dia’, Mahdi and Mohammad, in addition to Ziad al-Badawi.

It added that the soldiers also invaded Budrus village, west of Ramallah, and abducted Aws Nasser Marar, 26.

The soldiers also abducted Fayez Issa Turmusani, 26, from his home in the al-Am’ari refugee camp, south of Ramallah, after invading his home, and the home of Faraj Rommana.

(Source / 08.01.2019)

Palestinian Girl Shot at Israeli Military Checkpoint

08 Jan 5:23 AM

Israeli soldiers opened fire at a Palestinian girl, on Monday, at Zaatara military checkpoint, to the south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, injuring her lightly, according to witnesses and the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The girl, who was not immediately identified, was shot in the leg and detained without allowing Palestinian medics to treat her.

The health ministry described her injuries as light, WAFA reports.

Witnesses said the girl was standing on one side of the road when soldiers at the checkpoint started to call on her and then shot her for no apparent reason.

The Israeli army claimed the girl had acted suspiciously and when she did not heed calls by the soldiers, she was shot in the leg.

(Source / 08.01.2019)