When this article is published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, the Palestinian prisoners will have completed an entire month on hunger strike. They are surviving on water and salt alone. The Palestinian people will have also completed 69 years waiting for UN Resolution 194 stipulating the return of Palestinian refugees to the homes they were displaced from to be implemented.
The Palestinian prisoners are fighting under unique conditions, as they are experiencing suffering every day and are constantly facing their jailers. In addition to this, behind every Palestinian prisoner is a family also suffering in their absence and waiting for the moment of freedom. The prisoner movement has, for many decades, spearheaded many gains, which makes the Karama hunger strike very important. It also makes the strike a link in the series of the decades-long Palestinian struggle that cannot be ignored.
Over the past four years, European capitals and cities have been filled with events in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the streets in the West have regained the scene of demonstrations waving the Palestinian flag and chanting in various languages "freedom for Palestine". What is interesting about these solidarity events and demonstrations is that most of the participants are not Palestinians, but rather people from these Western countries, who are not Arabs, Muslims, or even Palestinians living in Europe. This reiterates that the corrupt Israeli narrative no longer convinces Westerners and reiterates that the global public opinion is starting to change and no longer supports Israel as it did in the past.
Everyone now recognises the existence of the Palestinians and their right to live. The Karama hunger strike has given activists who are in solidarity with Palestine across the world a new chance to bring the Palestinian cause back to the forefront, especially in Western countries whose citizens understand very well the meaning of a hunger strike, the meaning of violating prisoners' rights and the meaning of abusing prisoners. All of these are new achievements that can be added to the record of the struggles of the prisoner movement in Israeli prisons.
The events organised in solidarity with the prisoners' hunger strike must continue, especially due to the fact that the strike coincidences with the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, the displacement of the Palestinian people and the establishment of Israel, which has continuously violated their rights over this entire period. There should also be an increase in these events, as they are the only message that the prisoners can hear, and it is the only support they can receive from the outside world.
It is shameful that the solidarity events within the Palestinian territories are hesitant and weak, and do not live up to the level of their counterparts in European cities. Have the Europeans become more supportive of the prisoners than the Palestinians themselves? Have the Palestinian authorities, both in the West Bank and Gaza, grown tired of the events in solidarity with the prisoners? What about the factions that are distracted by electoral battles and partisan rivalries, but fall short in the face of a cause as great as the steadfastness of 6,000 Palestinian prisoners?
The prisoners are the model of Palestinian steadfastness and solidarity with them, even on a small level, is support for this steadfastness. The continued solidarity inside and outside the Palestinian territories is an integral duty and there is no excuse for leaving it.
Translated from Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 17 May 2017.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.