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Week 15: Rafe'a Karajeh Palestinian political prisoner

Some people are able to relish a struggle, no matter how difficult it is, or how serious the situation. So much so, in fact, that they set others a great example and go on to school them in how to cope with life behind bars in an Israeli jail.

Prisoner Rafe’a Farhood Mohamed Karajeh, 49, is one such person. A single man from the village of Safa near Ramallah, he was arrested by the Israelis on 20th May 1984 and sentenced to life imprisonment. After so long in prison, he has qualified for the list of “generals of patience”, places on which are reserved for those who have spent more than a quarter of a century as a prisoner of the Israeli occupation authorities. Despite this, he has never lost hope that he will one day taste freedom again, nor has he ever given up on his determination to help Palestinians obtain their rights.

Rafe’a Karajeh has been held in many prisons, some of which are now controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and he has left his mark in all of them. As a long-term detainee he has been able to help and guide many younger men who have been imprisoned by the Israelis. His patience and steadfastness have been inspirational, not least because his personality reflects the essence of a true freedom fighter; he puts aside personal and factional differences for the greater good of the national cause and this has helped fellow prisoners to come to terms with their imprisonment and see it as part of the overall struggle for Palestine and its people.

By participating in hunger strikes and other forms of protest in prison, Rafe’a Karajeh has paid a high price; repression, solitary confinement and frequent moves from one prison to another are just some of the tools used against him by the authorities. His experience in public mobilisation and politics has been put to good use in educating his fellow detainees; he is famed for being educated in prison and building a wide ranging network of contacts with colleagues from different Palestinian factions. In short, he is a true nationalist struggling for his land and his people, for which he has won the respect of people across the political spectrum.

Palestinian Prisoners
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