Manolis Glezos speaks in Athens on 20 December 2017, with Mohammed Khatib, Samidoun’s Europe coordinator
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network mourns the passing of Manolis Glezos, 97, a lifelong champion of liberation, a legendary anti-Nazi resistance fighter and a dedicated friend of a free Palestine. We remember his commitment to continue to resist all forms of exploitation and oppression, from the European Union’s plundering of the resources of the Greek people to the Israeli apartheid regime in occupied Palestine. His example of revolutionary commitment to people’s liberation will continue to stand as an inspiration and an example to all who struggle for radical change and a different, better world.
Glezos became a symbol of the Greek resistance to Nazi occupation and invasion when he climbed the Acropolis with his comrade Apostolis Santas, tore down the swastika flag. He was arrested and tortured repeatedly for his involvement in the resistance, and he was sentenced to death in absentia while the Nazis did not know his identity. After he returned to Greece following its liberation from Nazi occupation, Glezos returned to Greece, where he continued to fight against the right-wing government and later the dictatorship. For his work as a journalist and his activism, he faced multiple arrests and imprisonments, including three death sentences, until his final acquittal in the general amnesty of 1971. He was convicted 28 times for his political activity and served 11 years in prison. He was forced into exile for 4.5 years during the Greek military junta.
He worked as editor-in-chief of the newspaper Rizopastis and later, directed the newspaper Avgi. After the fall of the dictatorship in 1974, he served as president of the United Democratic Left (ECHR), a member of parliament for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and then a member of European Parliament with SYRIZA, from 2014 to 2015. He left SYRIZA after its acquiescence to the demands of the European “troika” of capital, resigning from his position to assert the rights of the Greek people.
Throughout his life, he was committed to a vision of liberation that was fully inclusive of the Palestinian people. He participated in protests inside the European Parliament to stand with the Palestinian people under Israeli attack in Gaza and called for freedom for Khalida Jarrar and other Palestinian political prisoners. In 2002, Israeli occupation forces blocked him and his colleagues from marching to Ramallah under siege.
On 20 December 2017, at an event organized by Samidoun in Athens marking 50 years of struggle of the Palestinian revolutionary left, two Palestinian youth presented him with a kuffiyeh and a map of Palestine to honor his lifelong commitment to liberation and his many years of struggle. Glezos addressed the event, speaking about his own history with Palestine solidarity and today’s situation, with Trump recognizing al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel. Glezos noted that Trump does not represent the people of the United States but himself and the ruling class, emphasizing that he has no right to decide to whom al-Quds belongs and that it is the rightful capital of the Palestinian people.
Glezos said that in his analysis, the Palestinian leadership has made major mistakes over the years, first and foremost the recognition of the Israeli state and secondly the decision to stop the Palestinian armed struggle outside Palestine. He concluded by emphasizing continuous and ongoing solidarity with the Palestinian people until the total liberation of Palestine.
herese Halasa as a young fighter in the camps and later in life, living in Amman after her release.
On 28 March 2020, Therese Halasa, lifelong struggler and Palestinian revolutionary, passed away in Amman, Jordan, at the age of 66. Born in Akka, occupied Palestine ’48 in 1954 to Palestinian and Jordanian parents, she grew up under Israeli martial law imposed on Palestinians. After the 1967 war and the occupation of the remainder of Palestine – the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – she was inspired by the same call as thousands of young Palestinians, flocking to the camps of the fighting movements of the Palestine Liberation Organization. She finished high school in Akka, studied nursing in Nazareth and left Palestine in 1971, without informing her family, to join the Palestinian liberation movement.
In an interview with scholars of the Learn Palestine project, she described her own crossing of the border from 1948 Palestine to Lebanon to join the Palestinian revolution. She emphasizes that she did not join the revolution due to “suffering, but due to a sense of patriotism inspired by Abdel Nasser and my father.”
As an 18-year-old Palestinian fighter in 1972, Theresa was one of four militants who hijacked a Belgian Sabena plane, Flight 571, en route to Tel Aviv. Their demand: freedom for 315 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.
The four Palestinian fighters, Therese Halasa, Rima Tannous (a young Jordanian woman), Ali Taha Abu Sneineh and Abdel-Aziz al-Atrash, and the plane were attacked by Israeli forces after landing in Palestine, disguised as Red Cross workers and aircraft technicians. The forces that attacked the plane and killed Abu Sneineh and al-Atrash – as well as a 22-year-old passenger, Miriam Anderson – included Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu; Netanyahu himself was shot in the shoulder, and Therese Halasa was severely injured.
Rima Tannous and Therese Halasa were brought before an Israeli military court and sentenced to life imprisonment, but they continued to educate themselves and struggle behind prison bars. Rima Tannous told her story of torture under Israeli interrogation in an account published after her release from Israeli prisons in 1979 in a prisoner exchange; Therese Halasa was released four years later in 1983 in another prisoner exchange with the Palestinian resistance. At the time of her release, she was engaged with other prisoners in a collective hunger strke.
After her release, Therese Halasa was expelled from occupied Palestine. She lived the rest of her life in Jordan, marrying and working as a nurse caring for patients with disabilities. She continued to tell her story, including to documentarians and filmmakers researching the history of the Sabena hijacking and the Palestinian revolution. Despite her illness and battle with lung cancer, she continued to be present at countless sit-ins and demonstrations for Palestine in Jordan.
Rima Tannous, Therese’s comrade-in-arms, shared her story of involvement, resistance, torture and oppression inside Israeli prisons in a statement published in 1979 after her release as part of a collection, Palestinian Political Prisoners: Struggle Behind Iron Bars, published by the PLO’s Unified Information Department and the Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners in Israeli Jails. We present Rima’s story, below, which includes a detailed description of her and Therese’s reunification behind bars, as well as their interaction with international political prisoners jailed by Israel for their involvement in the Palestinian struggle
Khaled Barakat, Palestinian writer and the international coordinator of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, filed an appeal against the latest attack by German immigration authorities against him. The Berlin immigration office announced that it intended to bar him from Germany for four years based on his political beliefs, writings and articles, particularly his rejection of “Israel’s right to exist” and his support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Barakat and his lawyer are fighting back in court against the decree, the latest in a long line of repressive actions by the German state targeting Palestinian activists and organizers working in solidarity with Palestine.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network talked with Khaled Barakat about the situation in Germany and the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Read our interview below for a critical discussion of key issues facing our movement, from racism and repression to a vision for a liberated Palestine.
We invite you to join us for a virtual event on Thursday, 26 March, “Fighting Anti-Palestinian Repression with Khaled Barakat.” This event will take place over Zoom at 12:00 pm Pacific time/3:00 pm Eastern time/8:00 pm Central European Time/9:00 pm Palestine time. Join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/518907218772925/
Samidoun: Why do you think German officials and the Berlin immigration office are continuing their political attacks on you, even though you are not living in Germany?
Khaled Barakat: The main reason that the German authorities took this decision of banning me for four years from entering Germany is to silence and suppress the Palestinian and Arab communities inside Germany more broadly. This case began with the confiscation of the right to speak, with the political ban on my speech at the event on June 22, 2019, shutting down an event that was organized by three Arab community organizations. My planned speech at this event was a discussion of Trump’s so-called “deal of the century,” and they found it so unacceptable that I would address this, that they sent the police to prevent it from happening.
This began as an attack on speech and expression, and it remains an attack on speech and expression. Germany is attempting to create an “example” of me, to show that those who oppose Israeli policies and the German political position in support of the occupier and the colonizer, will be subjected to silencing and repression. They do not want Israel – or Germany – to face this type of open criticism.
Further, they are not just worried about one writer who writes articles and gives talks. They are concerned about the strength of the Arab community in Berlin. They want to undermine the community’s attempts to organize itself, particularly the activities of Palestinian and Arab youth, who can become a real power if they come together, mobilize and organize for justice in Palestine, but also in Germany, fighting against racism and all forms of oppression.
S: Throughout the document, they repeatedly raise that you have spoken out in support of Palestinians’ right to resist occupation. At the same time, they claim that opposing Israel’s “right to national defense” is actually anti-Semitic, so they do not embrace some sort of pacifist position and instead support an Israeli monopoly on arms and “violence.” Why do you think it is important to defend Palestinians’ right to resist?
KB: Palestinians have been resisting occupation and colonization for over a century. They have waged revolution after revolution. Their revolution is continuous; it has never stopped, and it will remain until the liberation of the land and people of Palestine. Palestinian resistance is a right, and this right belongs to all Palestinians. This right stems from the legitimacy of our just cause: the liberation of Palestine and the return of the refugees. If our aims are met, when our goals are achieved, then there will be no need for armed resistance.
But so long as Palestine is occupied, so long as colonization confiscates our homes, so long as there is a settler-colonial, apartheid system implanted in Palestine, Palestinians will continue to resist through all forms. Palestinians will resist through popular protest, by building their popular movements, and by strengthening their military resistance to occupation.
S: There have been attempts to classify Palestinian resistance as “terrorist,” something we see within this document, even as it rests upon solely political speeches and writings. What do you think about this framing and why is it used?
KB: The colonizer will always impose an array of labels on the colonized people when they rise up and resist. They have called us savages, barbaric, and now, terrorists. For example, we have seen the “terrorist” term used against the Native and indigenous population in North America, as the modern incarnation of those past terms, when people rise up to protect their land and people from settler-colonial violence and extraction. Most recently, we have seen this term used repeatedly by right-wing groups aiming to stir up racist hatred and harsh repression against the Wet’suwet’en land defenders and fellow strugglers across Canada, as they block pipeline construction and train and port traffic to protect Indigenous land.
Just as the term “terrorism” is not uniquely applied to Palestine, of course, armed struggle to resist colonialism is not the sole domain of Palestinians, even if it may appear to be in the rhetoric of the Zionist movement and the Israeli state, adopted here by German officials. Many national liberation movements and revolutions around the world were historically and are at present based on and include armed struggle as a central part of that fight for liberation. The people of Algeria won their liberation through armed struggle, despite the bitter cost of 1.5 million martyrs extracted by French colonialism.
Today, when people in the Philippines fight to defend their land, their resources and their rights and fight for real land reform and social change, they have the right to take up arms in their struggle. When the people of Namibia resisted German colonization and faced massacres at the hands of invading German forces in the late 19th century and early 20th century, they had the right to take up arms and resist by all means necessary the colonialist forces invading their land and confiscating their resources.
The important thing here is that the people who are colonized are the ones who determine their forms of struggle, how they use these forms of struggle and when they use them, according to the needs and dictates of the liberation struggle and the people, not according to the whims of the colonizer. Germany, the United States and these forces who are responsible for creating the misery of the Palestinian people have no role to play in determining how the Palestinian people fight for their liberation.
S: This document also repeatedly refers to the boycott campaign, particularly the BDS campaign. In May 2019, the Bundestag passed an anti-BDS resolution, which was claimed at the time to be “not legally binding.” Yet here we find it cited multiple times as a reason to ban a person from entering Germany for four years for no other reason than his support for Palestinian liberation: a clear legal attack on freedom of movement and expression justified through repeated citations of this resolution. They attempt to label the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic and justify its suppression on this basis, despite the fact that it is a Palestinian call based on principles of international law and human rights. Why do you think this is?
KB: Germany and Israel are attacking the Palestinian voices and the supporters of Palestine to protect their interests in the colonization of Palestine. They are not concerned for Jewish people around the world, but for the perpetuation of colonization. They claim that the BDS campaign recalls memories of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses; of course, however, the BDS campaign has nothing to do with Jewish businesses in Germany or anywhere else, but with Israeli businesses in occupied Palestine as well as those multinational corporations reaping huge profits from the confiscation of Palestinian rights.
In fact, one of those multinational corporations that is a major target of BDS campaigns is HeidelbergCement, the German cement corporation that plunders Palestinian natural resources in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. It seems that there is, in reality, not German guilt for Nazi crimes, but self-interest in protecting its corporations involved in the theft of resources from an occupied, colonized people. In the same light, Germany is opposing the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction in occupied Palestine; is that not to protect the very German corporations profiting from war crimes?
We see today that the Zionist movement is closely aligned with far-right, neo-Nazi and fascist forces in Germany and throughout Europe. It is these groups that pose a threat to Jewish people in Europe – and also to our communities, who have been subjected to brutal racist attacks. On the other hand, Jewish people who speak up against Zionism and in support of Palestinian rights are themselves attacked as “anti-Semitic,” along with Palestinians, while fascists receive a free hand.
Which party was pushing an even more extreme anti-BDS, anti-Palestinian motion in the Bundestag? The AfD, the Alternative für Deutschland, the far-right, racist political party riddled with fascist sympathizers, because they saw it as support for their ally Israel and another way to attack Arab and Palestinian communities in Germany. And, of course, the rest of the parties in Germany, including the SPD and the CDU, have allowed an encouraged this kind of anti-Palestinian agitation, as we see in this dangerous Bundestag resolution.
Far from expressing guilt or responsibility for Nazi atrocities against Jewish people in Europe and the crimes of the Holocaust, this resolution and the other official anti-Palestinian attacks are an attempt to shift responsibility for these crimes from European fascism to Palestinian and Arab communities, especially refugee populations seeking refuge and safety. It is a tremendously racist resolution.
The racist, right-wing groups are in a direct alliance with Gilad Erdan and the Ministry of Strategic Affairs to attack this most basic form of expression by Palestinians and their supporters and allies – boycotting Israeli products and institutions. Meanwhile, BDS is supported by the progressive voices and social movements around the world, by a growing number of labor unions, left-wing parties, the progressive LGBT community that rejects pinkwashing, the anti-colonial women’s movement, liberation movements and oppressed peoples around the world. There is a Palestinian consensus on BDS and the boycott of Israel. There is an Arab popular consensus, even as reactionary regimes push a normalization agenda.
The reality is, they are worried because BDS is becoming a tool to raise the awareness of the public in Germany who still, in opinion polls, show greater support for the Palestinian cause. It exposes the relationship between Germany and Israel, the alliance in colonization and exploitation. It is Germany that provided free nuclear-capable submarines to Israel and continues to manufacture and sell these warships to the occupying power. These submarines are well-known to be equipped with nuclear warheads. This is only one part of Germany’s role in militarizing and destabilizing our region. We don’t want Israel’s nuclear weapons in our region!
Germany is not just militarizing Israel, it is becoming known to the people of the region as an enemy of Arabs and Palestinians, not only because they take these positions to defend the Israeli occupation from any type of pressure or accountability, but because of the racism and oppression directed against Arab and other refugee communities in Germany.
S: It seems that Germany doesn’t want to allow any opportunity for Palestinians to resist. They accuse you of being a danger for defending Palestinians’ right to resist through armed struggle, but also that you are a danger because you support a completely popular campaign, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
KB: The German state is lying when it claims to respect international law. If Merkel and Germany actually respect international law, they should be actively welcoming and engaging in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which is a call based upon international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
The government of Germany should boycott Israel! All of the German parties should boycott Israel, including the SPD, which seeks to blame Palestinian youth for anti-Semitism in Germany, and Die LINKE, whose leadership’s cowardice means it repeatedly betrays its supposedly left principles when it comes to Palestine. If Germany genuinely supports international law, democracy, peace, human rights and all of these phrases it invokes in official statements, then Germany should support Palestinians. In fact, it should provide financial, political and military support to the Palestinian people. It should not be providing that support to Israel, the occupier and the colonizer.
S: In the document, they talked about you going to the European Parliament. They claim that you speaking at the Parliament is somehow proof that you are a leader of the PFLP, and they cite Israeli complaints about your speech but not the Parliament’s own response dismissing them. Of course, your speech was about Germany’s violation of your rights and the silencing of your speech through the political ban. Why do you think they say this about their own parliamentary institution of the European Union?
KB: The colonizers are enraged when the colonized resist, even by delivering a speech at the European Parliament. Even more, they want us to be isolated. The purpose of these attacks is to frighten not just me as an individual, but the community as a whole.
If all can see that instead, we have the support of people around the world, across Europe and even in the Parliament, they can see that we are not alone. We are not isolated or silenced, despite their best efforts. When the solidarity groups speak out and support us in raising our voice and continuing to struggle, it is clear that Palestinians are not isolated and we have friends.
When we went to the European Parliament, our objective was to expose German violations against Palestinians and supporters of Palestine in Germany. My case is just one case, it is not the only or even the most important case.
This is also deeply connected to the fight against racism and oppression in Germany. Migrants from all areas and walks of life, Arabs, Africans, Kurds, Iranians and others, as well as Roma and other marginalized communities of Europe, all suffer from oppression and racism in Germany in various forms. They want to personalize this case and make it an individual issue, when the real issue is a collective struggle for justice.
S: Throughout the document, they refer to the term anti-Semitism a number of times, although they never cite anything you say that is anti-Jewish. Instead, they blatantly equate opposition to Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism. What do you think about this line of argument?
KB: Anti-Semitism exists and is real, and the primary perpetrators are right-wing, racist, anti-Jewish groups, the same groups that also attack people of color. These are the same fascists that can organize rallies in the streets of Germany, while German officials defend their “freedom of expression” and police attack anti-fascists who challenge them.
Not to mention the “legitimized” extreme right, like those of the AfD, who have entered Parliament with campaigns based on racist rhetoric. These are the forces that present the danger of anti-Semitism in Germany, and we need to oppose these forces and fight together. They are also the same groups that present an ongoing and direct threat to Palestinians, Arabs and all communities of color in Germany.
For Palestinians, the difference between the Zionist movement and Jewish people is quite clear. Our struggle has never been a religious conflict. It is not Palestinians who should be questioned by German officials about anti-Semitism. However, this is an important fight – in the real sense – because it can also help to deepen the unity between Jewish progressive forces and Palestinians and Arabs confronting racism, anti-Semitism and oppression in Germany, which also means confronting Zionism.
This struggle is one in which we can come together to build a united front, far from leading to tension and divisions. However, the state is not interested in confronting the threat presented by fascists; instead, we see this drive to shift responsibility for the historical crimes and legacy of Nazism and the Holocaust and blame Palestinians instead.
It should not even need to be said, but opposing Israel is not anti-Semitic. Opposing Zionism is not anti-Semitic. As I mentioned, progressive Jews also come under attack in Germany under the same banner. Jews and Palestinians have been put on trial for interrupting a member of the Knesset. The bank account of Jewish Voices for a Just Peace was shut down, the first time this was done to a Jewish group in Germany since the Nazi era.
These officially-backed attempts to discipline and suppress progressive Jews who challenge Zionism are in and of themselves anti-Semitic, as is the equation of Jewish people and Judaism with Zionism, occupation and oppression – something being done by the German supporters of apartheid and racism in Israel.
S: They also say that it is unacceptable that you do not “recognize Israel’s right to exist,” which they appear to want to create as a precondition for any Palestinian speech or political expression. What is your response to this?
KB: For Palestinians, to recognize “Israel’s right to exist” is not just treason but erasure of our truth, our history and our struggle. It is a justification of the Nakba and the crimes against our people.
States do not possess a “right to exist.” Only people possess that right. People have the right to live, but not states, not political systems and especially not colonial projects and apartheid regimes. What this also suggests is that it is impossible to consider an alternative to Israel. And what we say is that the alternative to Israel is indeed possible: a democratic Palestine, a democratic, secular society.
We fight to build our society, a liberated society, and not the state. We fight for the human. That is at the core of our cause. Palestinians will be victorious not only by ending the existence of colonization and apartheid in Palestine, but also by providing a genuine alternative for all people in Palestine, to live on an equal basis regardless of their religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, and so on.
S: Do you think the German government is involved in promoting “normalization,” or false dialogue that aims to justify colonialism in Palestine by presenting it as “Arab-Jewish dialogue,” when it is really about supporting Israel?
KB: Yes; they do not want to see a real, meaningful unity between progressive Jews and progressive Arabs in Berlin and throughout Germany. Instead, the German state and the local government in Berlin apparently wish to promote normalization efforts that distort the relationship between Arab and Jewish communities in Germany into one that is primarily about Israel and the defense of colonialism, rather than about confronting racism and oppression together.
We oppose these normalization efforts and have spoken out against them, and this is another reason why we see this latest attack. If you look at, for example, the way that they have used the framework of “interfaith dialogue” in an attempt to bring representatives of Zionist lobby groups to mosques in Berlin, this effort was supported by Berlin officials and representatives of the SPD. These efforts do not benefit our communities; they only aim to undermine Palestinian and Arab organizing and any real movement toward joint struggle.
S: You discussed racism in Germany before. We recently witnessed the horrific racist massacre in Hanau. At the same time, despite all of the condemnations of extreme racist violence, we see German officials, including the Interior Senator in Berlin, repeatedly issuing press releases and conducting a very public spectacle of raiding shisha bars in the Arab community in Berlin, or mainstream media issuing sensationalist stories about “clan crime.” All of this can encourage and normalize racism.
In the document, they say they are doing this to “deter other foreigners” from similar political activity. What do you think the relationship is between this case and racism inside Germany?
KB: When there is a racist attack on Palestinian, Arab, African, Turkish, Kurdish, Iranian and other communities, it is often labeled an isolated incident driven by individual pathologies. There is a real resistance to examining the context of the right-wing movement and far-right violence in Germany. The media is complicit, and the ruling class is complicit. Our communities are discussed as if our existence is a crisis and a problem; the image of a woman wearing hijab is portrayed as exotic or dangerous.
The only forces that benefit from this kind of propaganda are the ruling class and the capitalists who wish to set German workers against migrant communities rather than against the corporations that exploit both, and of course, the regimes that profit from racism. We would like to see a stronger society in Germany based on mutual solidarity and aid, especially at this time of crisis. In reality, the German state must recognize its own responsibility in the crimes against our people that have forced them to flee and seek safety.
Germany, the U.K., the European Union, Canada, the U.S., all of these want to avoid any scrutiny of their ongoing wars and occupations directed against the people of the region and the devastating effects of their militarization of our region. Imperialist forces do not want to address their dirty games and their devastating attacks that have forced our people to migrate.
It is Germany that benefits from the knowledge, culture and creativity of migrant and refugee populations that enrich German society despite the vast damage the German state and other imperialist powers have done to their home countries.
S: In this document, they also talk about the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine quite frequently. They admit that they cannot document your alleged role in the Front and that the PFLP is not banned in Germany, but they still say that it is “dangerous” that you express the positions of the Front because it is on the EU list of terrorist organizations. What do you think about these types of “terror lists”?
KB: The Popular Front is not an illegal organization in Germany. It is the largest Palestinian left party, that has a rich history of progressive, revolutionary struggle. The sympathizers of the Front number in the thousands – in Germany and in Europe alone. They are sympathetic to the Front because they believe in equality and in a democratic Palestine and because they oppose racism and all forms of oppression.
The so-called “terror list” of the EU and others, such as the U.S., is a means of political blackmail against popular struggles and revolutionary forces. It is a form of “the carrot and the stick.” It is used in an effort to attempt to extract concessions from these organizations. If they provide these concessions, they can be removed from the list. If they become traitors to their people and agents for imperialism, they can clear themselves from the list.
There is also an attempt to mislead the public. They list revolutionary organizations and liberation movements alongside criminal groups in a mish-mash, and then say that these are all the same. In the end, such lists are a failure; they will never change people’s political commitment and stands, nor stop oppressed peoples from struggling for their liberation.
The other objective of such terror lists is to frighten people, to say that if you have any kind of relationship, even a political relationship with Hamas, the PFLP, the FARC, the Communist Party of the Philippines, Turkish or Kurdish organizations, then you could be prosecuted. They are attempting to narrow the space of political activity in their own countries and frighten people into silence due to the fear that they could face persecution for speaking about these movements. In all cases, they are failing to redefine the fundamental goals and politics of the Palestinian people – or other peoples struggling for liberation – through these kinds of repressive measures.
S: What about Israel? What is the Israeli state’s role in all of this? The document seems to parrot claims made by Israeli propaganda agencies.
KB: Israel is losing the international battle with supporters of Palestine. There is growing support for BDS and for bringing Israeli impunity for war crimes to an end. And so, Israel is running to its backers and allies, the imperialist powers, for support: Germany, France, the UK, the United States. Imperialism is in a strategic alliance with Israel and Zionism, so it is no surprise that the parties of the ruling class in these countries go along with this imperative to denounce Palestinian liberation and defend apartheid by all means.
The racist, right-wing Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, is fighting this losing battle and also acting to justify the tens of millions of dollars spent on the budget of his ministry for shoddy propaganda. Erdan’s ministry has purchased its fawning news coverage in the Jerusalem Post. Posting this type of content has become a paid job for some Israelis.
Now, of course, Erdan is also the Minister of Public Security, which means he is in charge of the ongoing violations and crimes against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Many of these attacks have focused on organizations defending Palestinian prisoners, including both human rights organizations inside Palestine and international activist groups like Samidoun. Palestinian prisoners are facing a vicious attack inside Zionist prisons, and this is a further attempt to isolate the prisoners.
There is a connection between the oppression of Palestinians back home, especially the prisoners, and the targeting of Palestinians and their supporters around the world, including the BDS movement. They go hand in hand.
Israel views the international struggle as a threat. They cannot round up activists in New York, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago or Malmo and put them in administrative detention for six months as they do to their brothers and sisters inside occupied Palestine. So the dirty role belongs to the governments of the imperialist states, Belgium, Germany, the U.S., France and others, to repress the movement for Palestine.
The Palestinian prisoners who are today facing intense threats – including coronavirus, especially because we know how little Israel cares for the health and lives of Palestinian prisoners – they are the cream of the crop. They are the leaders of the Palestinian resistance and the solid core of our liberation struggle. This is why it is so crucial for the solidarity movement as a whole to place the struggle for their freedom as one of its main pillars, especially if we really want to fight back against the attacks of Erdan and his racist ministry.
S: Why do you think it is important to challenge these measures?
KB: We are challenging this legally and politically because we want to make it clear that we will not be silenced in the face of intimidation and that we will not back down. We are going to use all of the legal channels open to us to continue this struggle. It is necessary for us to fight back so that we do not make it easier for them to do this in the future.
If we do not challenge these attacks, claim our rights and say “no,” what will happen? They will oppress more people and attempt to intimidate more people. We must raise consciousness about the oppression our people face for being involved in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.
Of course, they want to distract us from our primary goals, create obstacles, and make that path of liberation exceedingly difficult. But we can also turn this into an opportunity to inform the public about the reality of Israel and the Palestinian cause, not to mention racism and the struggle of immigrants, refugees and people of color in Germany and throughout Europe.
It is important for people to support not just my case, but to support the underlying principles, including our right to freedom of expression. Such precedents are not limited only to Palestinians and Arabs; they reflect an intention to silence voices for justice that poses a threat to the entire society.
Palestinians in the diaspora, especially the younger generation, must reclaim their role in the struggle. Palestinian women, in particular, must restore their leading and central role in the movement, roles that have been stripped away by Oslo and its aftermath. The Palestinian popular classes must rise up against all conditions of liquidation of our cause and our identity.
The only way that we can do this is by bringing our people together and by ensuring that Palestinians in the shatat assume their responsibility to themselves and to Palestine. Our Palestinian communities in North America, Europe and Latin America have strategic tasks to play in supporting each other, supporting the refugee camps, supporting our people back home and create a new dynamic in which we overcome the stage of Oslo in which we have been mired for over 25 years. An entire Palestinian generation has been born since the devastation of Oslo, with the potential to chart a new and revived path of struggle.
What are the tasks of the current stage for Palestinians in general and Palestinians outside? This is the question that the colonizers do not wish us to answer, collectively. That is why they try to distract us and attempt to create obstacles through lawfare and similar attacks.
For Palestinians, we know that this is a long path of struggle and resistance. We do not expect that we will liberate Palestine tomorrow. We know that we confront very powerful forces. But we do know with a deep certainty that we will liberate Palestine one day.
Photo: Samidoun Europe coordinator Mohammed Khatib with Wilhen Nehomar Diaz Lara, Charge d’affaires at the embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the Netherlands
Samidoun Netherlands visited the Venezuelan embassy in the Netherlands on Tuesday, 14 January, with Mohammed Khatib, European coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. The activists met with Wilhen Nehomar Diaz Lara, Charge d’affaires at the embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, where they shared information about the current situation in Palestine as well as the imperialist attacks confronting Venezuela.
The Samidoun organizers spoke about the cases of Palestinian political prisoners, including the weeks of action to free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners. They also discussed the escalating use of torture in Israeli interrogation centers, including the prominent cases of prisoners such as Samer Arbeed, Mays Abu Ghosh and Walid Hanatsheh, who were subjected to severe physical torture in an attempt to force coerced confessions.
Khatib focused on the situation of Palestinians and solidarity organizers in Europe, including the difficult circumstances of Palestinian refugees who increasingly face threats of deportation and other repressive mechanisms, as well as the attempts by European governments to criminalize or suppress the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and growing solidarity with Palestinians. He also spoke about the failure of the Palestinian Authority and its embassies to truly represent the interests of the Palestinian people, especially Palestinian refugees both in Europe and in the camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
The Samidoun organizers noted their strong solidarity with the Venezuelan people in their struggle confronting imperialism, denouncing the role of the United States and the European Union in attempting to impose a right-wing coup, confiscate Venezuelan resources and undermine the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination. They emphasized the strong support for Venezuela in the Palestinian community, especially as the Bolivarian Republic has consistently taken a strong stand internationally in defense of the rights of the Palestinian people.
Diaz Lara spoke about the current situation in Venezuela, particularly the devastating sanctions (unlawful unilateral coercive measures) directed against the Bolivarian Republic as well as the attempt to foment a right-wing coup. He spoke about the involvement of European banks in confiscating the resources of the Venezuelan people in service of the coup, and the effects on Venezuelans’ access to medicine and other basic needs. He also spoke about the coup in Bolivia and the troubling human rights crisis in Colombia, especially the escalating number of assassinations targeting social movement leaders.
He emphasized that despite the attacks against the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela remains committed to its internationalist vision. He discussed the history and present of Dutch colonialism in Latin America, particularly in Suriname and the Antilles, and urged the importance of global solidarity.
He expressed his solidarity and that of the Bolivarian Republic and the Venezuelan people with Palestine, saying that “Palestinians are always welcome and Palestine is always our priority.” Samidoun Netherlands agreed to join the solidarity committee meetings that take place at the embassy and to work together in the future to build joint struggle against imperialism and for liberation, from Venezuela to Palestine.
Israeli occupation officials announced that child prisoners would be transferred away from the Ofer prison and separated into cells without the adult prisoner representatives who support them before the prison administration on Saturday, 11 January. In response, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society noted that this is another attempt to confiscate one of the achievements of Palestinian prisoners that came through long periods of struggle, putting Palestinian children and youth at further risk.
The Prisoners Society noted that, rather than being held in groups, child prisoners would be held two to a cell. It said that this tactic was designed to isolate imprisoned children further from one another and from protective oversight of Palestinian elder prisoners. It also noted that prisoners would launch a series of protests in response, noting that this comes as part of a series of efforts to roll back achievements defending Palestinian prisoners’ rights that has been taking place systematically since 2018.
Specifically, the Israeli prison administration declared that around 60 child prisoners – out of a total of 200 children currently detained by the Israeli occupation. On Sunday evening, they announced that 34 Palestinian children would be transferred to Damon prison on Monday morning, 13 January, without the presence of their adult representatives.
Removing Palestinian child prisoners from the Ofer prison is particularly worrisome because Ofer is the main Israeli prison within the occupied West Bank of Palestine. Despite the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition of the transfer of people under occupation to detention centers and prisons in the occupying power’s territory, the vast majority of Palestinian prisoners are subjected to exactly this type of transfer.
Because the Israeli occupation controls access to these prisons, Palestinians jailed in these prisons cannot receive family visits unless their family members receive a permit from the Israeli occupation authorities. These permits are frequently denied or revoked on spurious or nonexistent grounds of security, leaving jailed Palestinians without family visits. The impact on these denials on Palestinian children and their families is even more profound than its effect on adult prisoners.
This came as the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission reported that Palestinian children in Ofer prison and their families had faced 54,000 NIS ($15,500 USD) in fines in December 2019 alone. In December 2019, 38 child prisoners entered Ofer prison, where there are currently 82 children imprisoned in two sections. Twenty children were sentenced in December to one week in prison to 23 months, while one child prisoner was ordered jailed without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention for four months. (Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable.)
The Commission noted that these hefty fines are an arbitrary mechanism designed as a form of collective punishment for Palestinian families, in order to further restrict them by burdening them with unaffordable fines.
Every year, around 700 Palestinian children are brought before Israeli military courts after being arrested, detained and interrogated. The vast majority report some form of torture and abuse, including kicking and beating in military jeeps as well as psychological torture during interrogation, including threats to arrest family members. Palestinian children are routinely denied access to parents or lawyers during interrogation and are held in solitary confinement. Several Palestinian children are jailed without charge or trial under indefinitely renewable Israeli administrative detention orders.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign focuses on the effort in the United States to pass H.R. 2407, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act,” a bill prohibiting U.S. taxpayer funding for the military detention of children by any country, including Israel.
Samidoun urges people in the U.S. to support the No Way to Treat a Child campaign and advocate for the release of all Palestinian children from Israeli prisons. We demand the freedom of all Palestinian child prisoners and Palestinian prisoners sentenced as children in Israeli jails, as part of the liberation of all Palestinians imprisoned by the occupation – and the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.
After Mays Abu Ghosh spoke about the torture and abuse to which she was subjected under a month of Israeli interrogation at the Moskobiyeh detention center, the family of her friend and fellow Palestinian student prisoner Samah Jaradat discussed her experience, as reported in Quds News.
Jaradat was subjected to 22 days of harsh interrogation at the Moskobiyeh detention center in occupied Jerusalem after she was seized by Israeli occupation forces who invaded her family’s home in Al-Bireh on 7 September 2019. Her father reported that armed occupation soldiers began banging on the door of the family home at 3:00 am. After the soldiers invaded the family home, two female soldiers entered Samah’s room alone and began to interrogate her.
Samah refused to open her phone for the occupation soldiers, so they brought her father to demand he open the phone for them. He reported that when he supported his daughter, an Israeli intelligence officer began questioning him about “how he raised his children,” a theme he had earlier pursued when Samah’s brother refused to greet the intelligence officer. The agent began shouting at her father, and he affirmed that he was proud of his children and how they were raised.
Samah’s father reported that the invading soldiers blindfolded her, cuffed her hands and detained her at a military camp before transferring her to the Moskobiyeh detention center. He said that “At the beginning of her interrogation at Moskobiyeh, the jailers strip-searched Samah and kept her in the room for five consecutive hours without anyone else present before beginning the interrogation.” He said that she was held in isolation and subjected to various forms of psychological torture, including sleep deprivation, during her interrogation. She was prohibited from seeing a lawyer for over 22 days.
He also said that “The occupation intelligence officers were interrogating Samah for lengthy, continuous hours, from 9 in the morning until 5 am the next day, in order to exhaust her and attempt to force her to confess.” He said that they first began to interrogate her, accusing her of participating in exploding a roadside bomb placed by the Palestinian resistance near an illegal Israeli settlement, but after discovering nothing, shifted instead to questioning her about her student activism at Bir Zeit University.
During the interrogation, Israeli interrogators threatened to keep her in prison for the rest of her life or to arrest her father or her brothers, her father reported. He also said that his daughter was taken to a room with speakers broadcasting screams and cries of pain, which Samah was told were the sounds being made by Palestinian prisoners during interrogation under torture.
Samah’s father reported that the Israeli intelligence officers directed that Samah be moved to the cells of collaborators in Ramle prison. This is a well-known technique in which arrested Palestinians are transferred to cells with others who claim to also be Palestinian prisoners. However, they are actually collaborators working for Israeli intelligence who are attempting a different form of interrogation to extract information from the person who has been detained.
He reported that one of the intelligence agents came to Samah and identified himself as a representative of the Palestinian prisoners, saying that he had requested that a place be opened for her with the rest of the prisoners. The undercover agent asked her to tell him all of the details about her political work and student activity, but she refused, because she recognized that it was a trap, her father reported.
“Samah has a strong personality and a deep concern for the Palestinian national cause. She loves her family very much. These are qualities that always make us proud, and we hope to see her free very soon,” he said.
In a letter she sent to her family, Samah wrote: “I send this letter to you from Damon prison, located on Mount Carmel. I am fine and everything is well. During the interrogation period, you were always with me at every moment. I was strengthened by your strength, so stay strong. I love you very much and hope you are well. When I saw you, and to Samar, Samer, Salwa, Sami and Salma, I love you so much.
Samah Jaradat was arrested only days after her graduation from her undergraduate studies at Bir Zeit University with a major in sociology. There are dozens of Palestinian students from Bir Zeit alone held in Israeli prisons, including several jailed under administrative detention without charge or trial.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the broadest possible action and mobilization to support Samah Jaradat, Mays Abu Ghosh and Palestinian students and new graduates jailed by the Israeli occupation forces. We urge students around the world to hold events, vigils and informational actions to highlight the struggle of Palestinian students under occupation and all people of conscience to develop the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Freedom for Samah Jaradat and all Palestinian students!
Arabic source for this report: https://qudsn.net/post/171912/
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses our strongest condemnation of the latest crime by the United States against the people of Iran and Iraq, the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport on 2 January 2020.
For over three decades, the United States has been engaged in a series of ongoing wars and occupation of Iraq, which has encompassed sanctions, invasion, occupation, bombing, the starvation of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure and the fomenting of civil war. This latest attack – on Iraqi soil, in apparent “revenge” for Iraqis demanding the U.S. occupation out of their country – cannot be separated from the continuing war on and occupation of Iraq.
Of course, this attack is also a massive escalation in the ongoing threats of war on Iran. The assassination of a major military – and political – leader is a blatant act of war and aggression that comes atop the ever escalating use of the economic weapon of sanctions against Iran, a project in which U.S. imperialism is fully allied with Israel in order to target the Iranian people in order to prevent any challenge to the imperialist-Zionist-reactionary hegemony and domination in the region.
This assassination puts millions of lives at risk throughout the region, primarily the lives of working people and the popular classes in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Palestine. It is a blatant act of imperial aggression with massive implications. We note that the goal of this assassination appparently seeks to threaten the resistance to imperialism more broadly throughout the region and extend the precedent of U.S. impunity for war crimes.
In particular, we note the particularly dangerous role played by U.S. “anti-terrorism” legislation. Nearly every Palestinian resistance organization is labeled a “foreign terrorist organization” by the United States. This designation is used to imprison charity workers like the Holy Land Five, to divide Palestinian communities in exile from those fighting inside occupied Palestine and struggling in the refugee camps, to threaten activists and organizers around the world with criminalization. In the case of the assassination of Qassem Soleiman and the extraordinary action of the U.S. in declaring a state’s armed forces to be a “foreign terrorist organization,” we recognize that these laws are also a threat of death.
We know that the real force of terror in the world is that of U.S. imperialism and its partners, the Zionist project and Arab reactionary regimes. In Palestine, 5,000 Palestinian prisoners – and indeed, a whole people – are labeled as “terrorists” by the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing, colonialism, mass arrests, extrajudicial killing, torture, land theft, home demolition, decades of assassinations: That is, they are labeled by the perpetrators of over 100 years of terror. For all of that time, a war has been waged on Palestinian resistance and on the resistance and self-determination of peoples throughout the region. Despite the atrocities and the military might of the perpetrators, that resistance has continued to fight for justice, return and liberation, to make it clear that the Palestinian people, the Arab people, the Iranian people and all peoples in the area hold the promise of a society liberated from oppression.
Imperialist wars anywhere are always wars on the people everywhere.We urgently call on friends and supporters of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance, especially within the United States and its allied imperialist states (Canada, the European Union and others) to take action to build a real anti-war movement to confront the crimes of empire. Now is the time to stand up and say clearly: US out of Iraq! No war on Iran! We stand with the resistance!
In her statement to the lawyers, Abu Ghosh recalled that she was seized by Israeli occupation forces in a violent raid on 29 August 2019, when the armed soldiers removed the door of her family home and invaded it, ransacking her and her family’s belongings, blindfolding and cuffing her and then taking her to an occupation military camp near Qalandiya checkpoint. While she was held there, the soldiers dragged her violently as she was handcuffed and blindfolded while cursing at her and screaming in her face.
Later, Mays was transferred to the Moskobiyeh interrogation center. She was strip-searched and then transferred to the interrogation cells. She recalled that her interrogations lasted for many hours at a time while she was shackled to a small chair inside a very cold cell. After six days, the “military interrogation” began with her, which included the use of stress positions like the “banana” and “squatting” or the “false chair” for long periods of time, in an attempt to coerce a false confession from her.
She was slapped, beaten and deprived of sleep. This “military interrogation” continued for three days, during which all of these torture tactics continued. Abu Ghosh said that at one time, she tried to escape from the interrogators and sit in one of the corners of the cell, but the interrogator began slamming her head against the wall, kicking her while yelling obscenities. Next, interrogators deliberately brought her brother and her parents in an attempt to coerce her into confessing by threatening to detain them. Her 17-year-old brother was later ordered to administrative detention, without charge or trial, despite being a minor.
Mays said that the interrogation cells have extremely harsh conditions, lacking the basic elements for human life. The walls are concrete and rough, the mattress is thin, without a cover or a pillow, and the lights are kept on 24/7 even as loud sounds constantly disturb the prisoners. She also noted that the meals provided were very poor and that wastewater would enter her cell and flow onto the mattress.
She said that at one time, a large rat entered her cell, which she believes was intentionally entered by the interrogators in order to further torment her. They repeatedly delayed in responding to the simplest requests, for example to access the bathroom, and was repeatedly provoked and ridiculed. After 30 days of this treatment under interrogation, she was transferred to the Damon prison, where she remains today, with her fellow Palestinian women prisoners. She is charged in the Israeli military courts – which convict over 99% of Palestinian detainees – with involvement in student activities on the Bir Zeit University campus. Her brother’s administrative detention has been renewed again and he continues to be jailed without charge or trial.
Mays’ family earlier spoke about their experience in being brought to see her under interrogation, noting that the signs of torture were visible on her face and body. “Her face was full of bruises and her body is very pale. I could not hug her due to the pain hurting all of her body,” said her mother. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association convened a press conference on 23 December highlighting the torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners, including Abu Ghosh.
Mays Abu Ghosh and Samah Jaradat are two of many Palestinian students who are being targeted by the Israeli occupation for arrest and imprisonment for their involvement in student activities on campus. Shatha Hassan, chair of the Bir Zeit University student council board, has been ordered to four months of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. There are hundreds of Palestinian university students held in Israeli jails, including approximately 80 from Bir Zeit alone.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the broadest possible action and mobilization to support Mays Abu Ghosh and Palestinian students jailed by the Israeli occupation forces. We urge students around the world to hold events, vigils and informational actions to highlight the struggle of Palestinian students under occupation and all people of conscience to develop the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Freedom for Mays Abu Ghosh and all Palestinian students!
Palestinian youth activist and organizer and human rights defender Hassan Karajah has been ordered to administrative detention – Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial – rather than being released at the end of his 16-month sentence. Karajah, 39, from the village of Saffa near Ramallah, has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces since 11 September 2018.
After his arrest, he was denied access to a lawyer and held under harsh interrogation for nearly a month. At one point during his interrogation, on 9 October 2018, he was forced by armed Israeli soldiers to return to his family home as they came from the Moskobiyeh interrogation center and ransacked the property. He has repeatedly been jailed on charges related to his political and social activities and jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention.
He was jailed for 23 months after being arrested in 2013 on charges related to his political and social activity. After his release, he was re-arrested once again in July 2016 and ordered to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. His detention was repeatedly extended for 16 months until he was released in November 2017.
Hassan Karajah is the father of twin daughters, Sarai and Kinza, born during his previous administrative detention. He was only allowed to see his daughters for the first time six months after their birth. His wife, Thameena Husary, said that shortly before her husband was scheduled to be released, he was instead ordered by the Ofer military court to administrative detention for four months, on the basis of so-called secret evidence.
Karajah is well-known internationally. An activist with the Stop the Wall Campaign, he was a member of the Arab Youth Forum and traveled to speak about the Palestinian cause, the struggle of Palestinian prisoners and the urgent need to defend Palestinian land from settlements and the apartheid wall. Indeed, he was targeted for traveling abroad, accused of “contact with an enemy state” during his 2013 arrest, a charge frequently used to target Palestinians who travel to Lebanon for Arab and international conferences and events.
Karajah is a trainer at the Handala cultural center in Saffa and director of its annual arts and cultural festival in the village. He is well known for his work in a number of civil society organizations, including the Stop the Wall Campaign and the Partnership for Development Project, and his advocacy for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
He is also involved in a grassroots project called Tijwal Safar, which organizes political tours in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and occupied Palestine ’48 of Palestinian villages, especially those threatened by Israeli land grabs, settlements and racist policies; operating under the slogan, “If you walk the land, you own it,” it has brought hundreds of Palestinians to targeted villages and farmland.
There are currently approximately 450 Palestinians held in administrative detention, of around 5,000 total Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. These detention orders, introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist project, are issued for up to six months at a time but are indefinitely renewable. Palestinians spend years at a time jailed under administrative detention. Fellow Palestinian prisoner and administrative detainee Ahmad Zahran is currently on his 103rd day of hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial, demanding an end to the practice.
The use of administrative detention against prisoners whose sentences have been completed has escalated in recent years and has sparked several hunger strikes, including those of Bilal Kayed and Jafar Ezzedine. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all supporters of Palestine to join the campaign to end administrative detention and build the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel for its violations of Palestinian rights, including the ongoing practice of administrative detention.
March in Ramallah in support of Ahmad Zahran, on hunger strike for 99 days
As hunger-striking Palestinian administrative detainee Ahmad Zahran entered his 99th day of hunger strike, demanding freedom from Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial, a leader in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement was transferred to collective isolation. Wael Jaghoub, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s prison branch, was transferred from Ramon prison to collective isolation in Hadarim prison shortly following the PFLP prisoners’ statement that the leftist party would be mobilizing inside the prisons to demand freedom for Zahran, 42.
The Handala Center for Prisoners and Former Prisoners reported on Monday, 30 December that the PFLP prison branch said that Jaghoub’s isolation was “an integral part of the ongoing targeting of leaders and cadres of the Front inside and outside prison. It is a desperate attempt to disrupt the activities of the Front’s prison organization, especially as it launches a new, strategic battle in support of Comrade Zahran on hunger strike.” Specifically, they said that the isolation was a form of retaliation for Jaghoub’s refusal to meet with a delegate from the Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, along with other leaders of Palestinian parties inside prisons.
A group of PFLP prisoners in Israeli jails announced that they will launch a one-day hunger strike on Tuesday, 31 December in support of Zahran. They urged wide support and solidarity for Zahran’s struggle as he nears 100 days of hunger strike. They emphasized that Jaghoub’s isolation will not deter their commitment to escalate the struggle inside prisons in support of Zahran and his strike for freedom.
Wael Jaghoub is serving a life sentence in Israeli prison for his role in the Palestinian resistance. He has writen two books and dozens of articles from his prison cell, especially those related to the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. In a new book, “Letters from the Prison Experience,” Jaghoub wrote about the struggle of the prisoners’ movement inside Israeli jails. He has been repeatedly subjected to isolation, denial of family visits and interrogation during his imprisonment.
Zahran, held in the Ramleh prison clinic, is unable to walk and has suffered from serious deterioration of his health and has lost over 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of weight since launching his strike. The military appeals court at Ofer prison has repeatedly delayed a decision on his appeal against the detention order.
From the village of Deir Abu Mishaal near Ramallah, Zahran previously conducted a 39-day hunger strike to secure his freedom from administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Despite an agreement to end his hunger strike and release him, a new four-month administrative detention order was lodged against him, prompting Zahran to launch his current strike.
He has previously spent 15 years in Israeli prisons. He is the father of four children (Rusaylah, Reem, Omar and Yamen). His brother, Saleh, has served 17 years of a 20-year prison sentence and is held in Hadarim prison.
Also on 29 December, crowds of people marched in Ramallah in support of Zahran and his fellow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails struggling for freedom. Participants carried banners highlighting Zahran’s strike and photos of many imprisoned Palestinians, including the student prisoners Shatha Hassan, president of the Bir Zeit Student Council Board, and Mays Abu Ghosh, journalism student at Bir Zeit.
Zahran is the latest Palestinian prisoner to wage a long-term hunger strike against administrative detention. Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable and can be issued for up to six months at a time. Palestinians have spent years in Israeli prison under these orders. Currently, around 450 of over 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners are detained under administrative detention orders, initially introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist state.
Israel’s practice of administrative detention, which is used systematically to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial, comes in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is also a form of psychological torture for the detainees and their families: They never know when and how they may be released, if ever.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reiterates our full and unconditional solidarity with Ahmad Zahran and all Palestinian prisoners struggling for freedom. We urge all supporters of justice around the world to take a stand with Ahmad Zahran, whose life is on the line as he struggles to bring an end to administrative detention. International solidarity can be important to show Palestinian prisoners like Ahmad Zahran that they are not forgotten and to put pressure on the Israeli state – and the governments that support it – to support Zahran in achieving victory for justice and freedom.