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Palestinian prisoners - restoring the right path of Palestinian struggle

Men play the role of jailed Palestinians and Israeli soldiers during a rally in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails, in Gaza City on Monday. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
Men play the role of jailed Palestinians and Israeli soldiers during a rally in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails, in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

The issue of the Palestinians detained by the Israeli occupation reflects the history of the Palestinian struggle with its combat, steadfastness and remarkable endurance. It even goes beyond that to reach the detainee’s greatest endurance of bitterness of oppression, injustice and the occupation’s singling out of victims in the midst of an era distinguished by the defeats and setbacks of Arabs.

This does not stop at this level as the captive movement, which includes thousands of prisoners, has become a compass that guides the Palestinian struggler when he is lost, and guides him back to the right and true paths of resistance. The movement even offers a struggle programme that summarises the needs and determinants of preserving the national constants and how to adhere to them, even in the darkest circumstances.

This is clearly reflected in the state of Palestinian political regression in the path of the struggle for liberation, which is part of, and a reflection of, the state of weakness and retreat Arabs are going through regarding the core political issues, mainly the Palestinian cause.

Detainees have their decisive words in the phase of the Palestinian and Arab forces’ “relaxation” from the struggle. On more than one occasion, they emphasised the importance of paying attention to the Palestinian people’s sacrifices, including the martyred, the injured, the disabled and the displaced people, in addition to their ongoing suffering, which is considered an icon that provokes the occupation, as well as the accumulation of tortures, oppression, the loss of life behind the bars of cells, and the loss of parents, loved ones, and all the pleasures of a decent life.

They are thus reminding of the justness of the Palestinian cause, and Palestinians’ patience when facing calamities. They are also telling the entire Palestinian political spectrum that those who participated in the struggle against the occupation cannot look back, or groan about the length and roughness of the road. The battle of the consolidation of entity, identity and rights is strenuous, and the resistance till the end is God’s assignment; a moral as well as human duty, directed by purity and instinct, and anything other than this leads to an eternal extinction.

This solid spirit, which defeated all the occupation’s tricks, intrigues and tyranny in more than one round, is expressed by people who believe in rights, justice, and think that the essence of man and what constitutes his being lies in his dignity, which he must not give up. For this reason, they do so with the strong will that the occupation’s prisons, even its cunning plans, or its advanced weapons, have failed to break.

This is happening despite the fact that the body of the captive movement is full of wounds, especially with what the Palestinian Society Prisoners’ Club has recently documented, confirming that the occupation authorities have carried out about one million arrests against Palestinians. “Nowadays, there are about 6,500 Palestinian detainees, including 350 children and 62 women, counting 21 mothers, and eight minor girls, in addition to six deputies of the Palestinian Legislative Council.”

In its most recent report, the Club said: “48 people have been detained for more than 20 years continuously, 25 of them have been arrested for more than a quarter of a century, and 12 of them have been detained for more than 30 years.” The Club also stated that “In 2018, the number of the martyrs of the captive movement rose to 215, 77 of them have been martyred after a decision to kill and execute them after the arrest. 72 have been martyred as a result of torture, 61 have been martyred as a result of medical negligence and seven detained have been directly shot by soldiers and guards inside the detention centres.”

On a daily basis, prisoners endure the bitterness of the practices of oppression, extortion and psychological as well as physical damage practiced by the prisons’ guards against them. “There is a continuous policy of administrative detention without trial, in addition to the intentional medical negligence that has led to hundreds of chronic diseases and to the infection of people who are in need of urgent medical treatment and follow-up. The figures indicate that 26 detainees are suffering of cancer in the meantime.”

The captive movement has remained steady for decades to present the typical image on which the Palestinian political situation is supposed to be based, including the unity of all the Palestinian factions under the flag of liberation and restoration of rights, in order to undergo on this basis the struggles that have continued in the cells. For 50 years, detainees have held more than 28 open hunger strikes in the occupation’s prisons, in addition to individual strikes by a number of detainees.

Despite the great extent of sacrifices, the national concern was present in the minds of the Palestinian detainees. They served as a “thermometer” that measured the dangers of the repercussions of the Palestinian division on the course of the cause, which led them to issue the Palestinian National Reconciliation Document in 2006, so as to preserve the precious blood and to the maintain the pillars on which the Palestinian home is based.

The detainees’ demands to all Palestinian politicians, leaders and factions about the importance of the embodiment of national unity are still continuing, as it is a way to preserve the identity of the Palestinian struggle, to protect it from deterioration and to regain the initiative to get back the state of the Palestinian national struggle on its proper path, through different forms of struggle, which the popular struggle is nowadays considered to be part of, and which is embodied this time in the marches of return that open a new chapter of the Palestinian sacrifice and redemption.

On Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, we join the voices of those who are calling for the restoration of the momentum of the Palestinian struggle in all its forms and manifestations, activating its tools, the need to promote Palestinian rights throughout the world, and to remind of the justness of the cause and propel it to the helm of the Arab, regional and international concerns, through one of the simplest forms of fulfilment of the historical sacrifices that have been made, and are still being continued, by the Palestinian people, including those who have been martyred, injured, disabled, orphaned, widowed and detained.

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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