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Dear Khaled Meshaal - you promised their freedom

I decided to address this open letter to you on a matter that haunts so many people in the wounded West Bank even though I and many others know that you are not responsible for this suffering. Nor have you created it, but it's reached the point where a solution is becoming harder to find.

I'm talking about the issue of political detainees held in Fatah's security prisons in the West Bank, who are on a hunger strike, and others who are still victims of recurring detention and almost daily summonses for questioning.


I chose to address my letter to you as I am convinced that you are now the highest-level Palestinian leader to whom the vulnerable go when they are in distress; and because I know that you are concerned about the oppressed and their rights, and that you fulfil your promises to them. We still recall your words to the prisoners in Israeli prisons on the day of the Wafa-Ahrar swap deal: "We promise those who are left behind in the prisons that we will continue our efforts until you all are released; this is a promise to you and to God." These words heard at the homes of the freed were mixed with the joy of return.

Today, a group of some of the finest young Palestinians approach the second week of being on hunger strike in the prisons of the Palestinian Authority; the prisons of our brothers, not our enemies. We know how much you and your brothers in the Hamas leadership have sought to find a common language between you and Fatah which can get people together and bridge the gap. Thus we assume that it is essential for this common language to yield a desired breakthrough that will be felt first by those targeted by the arrest campaign and their families, as they make up a large segment of the Palestinian society.

We know that your manners always push you towards doing the best, and urge you to bite the bullet, although painful, for the common interest (not necessarily the best interest) of the Palestinians. Our people's wounds are getting bigger and they are no longer tolerable, but the dreams we had over the past year, which is the time that has passed since the signing of the latest reconciliation agreement, have evaporated and the group which is destined to carry the flag and be serious about reconciliation will lose its trust in the other group, which continues to talk about reconciliation but then arrests and tortures its political opponents.

The details of daily prison journals describe the long days and nights spent by those who are being tormented, whose only "crime" is that they raised the banner of resistance at a time when the leadership of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority felt it is not appropriate to confront the occupation. This, of course, was decided after direct orders from those who finance the PA, to the extent that the authority has decreed that the possession of a weapon or money for resistance is a high risk crime.

Our great teacher, we address you today because we find it hard to ask those who do not have control over their own matters, and those whose actions are all governed by the occupation; we find it hard to ask those people for help as they do not fulfil their promises. If they talk, they lie, and do not fear for the consequences of injustice as long as they are able to maintain their regime against the national norms.

We address you on behalf of the many people who come here every day to appeal to you through the media and daily solidarity sit-ins they organise in support of their sons.

We know that you have a heavy load and many serious concerns, and that you feel for the suffering of your people, but we trust that you've always been up for it and capable of taking care of matters.

Therefore, we say this: the freedom of these prisoners is a promise you made and we believe you will fulfil; you're responsible for their lives and their families' calls for help are of concern to you. May God bless you and keep you an asset to the resistance, and protectors of the people and their children.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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