This week, the family of Brazilian-Palestinian, Islam Hamed, received the news of his condemnatory sentence by the Israeli military court: 21 years in prison. Between comings and goings, there are 18 years of political imprisonment—which is no exception in the face of institutionalised apartheid, as recognised by international organisations such as Human Rights Watch. Conviction, if delivered in a situation of injustice, must not paralyse, but serve as one more reason to resume the campaign in Brazil for his immediate release.
The "Front" in Defence of the Palestinian People, which brings together organisations and collectives in solidarity, is already starting to articulate this initiative. In this direction, in addition to vehemently repudiating arbitrary condemnation and expressing unconditional support for Islam Hamed and his family, it promises to intensify the denunciation of the Zionist occupation, as well as strengthen mobilisation so that legal protection is ensured for the Brazilian citizen so that he can finally live free with his family.
The petition will be taken to the Brazilian Parliament and national and international organizations for the defence of human rights. He is the son of a Brazilian mother. Islam Hamed must be protected by the national state, as provided in legal provisions, including the Migration Act (No. 13,445 of May 24, 2017, Article 3, item XIX).
In 2016, the "Front" in Defence of the Palestinian People promoted intense articulation with popular and social organisations, activists, Brazilian and international solidarity movements for his liberation. During this period, Islam Hamed was in the Palestinian Authority (PA) prison—which is an agency for the occupation—and was leading a hunger strike against injustice which lasted 101 days. The case gained visibility and reached the Brazilian Parliament. Under pressure, the (PA) released him, but the family's intention—for Islam to be brought to Brazil—did not materialise. Three months later, he was arrested again, this time by Israel.
If at that time the campaign was massive, now there are two more reasons for this fight: the twins, Khadija and Muhamad, who were born on 6th October, the result of "smuggling of semen"—a form of resistance, when even the right of starting a family is usurped by Zionism. To "freedom ambassadors"— as the Palestinians call the babies who have come into the world in this way, against all odds amidst continued colonisation and ethnic cleansing—the promise of Brazilian activists and movements is that they will continue to fight for the liberation of the young father, denouncing arbitrary arrests and institutionalised torture which is part of the apparatus of criminal occupation. This one, yes, should be in the dock and be ordered to disappear. Israel collects international convictions and denunciations, including at the International Criminal Court in The Hague but, so far, there has been no effective action to advance this process.
The case of Islam Hamed is emblematic of the crimes that the State of Israel commits at will, given the impunity granted to it by the so-called "international community". This is a Brazilian citizen who has been, between comings and goings, in the infected and inhumane Israeli prisons for 18 years. His passport did not save him from the fate reserved by the Zionists for those they consider undesirable, to be eliminated.
The only crime that Islam Hamed has committed is being Palestinian. Thus, he could not enjoy his youth, as he was first arrested at the age 17 for throwing stones at the occupation army's tanks. On the other hand, these Zionist military forces which destroy families, houses, crops, kill, usurp land and violently enter villages, go unpunished. During the first Intifada (popular uprising), which started in 1987 and lasted four years, they used to break the elbows of children and young people, like Islam, who threw stones in a desperate attempt to hinder the genocidal action of their tormentors.
The saga of Islam Hamed starts there. Since then, it has sadly become customary to imprison him, including in a system of administrative detention, in which, without any formal accusation or justification, Israel renews the permanence of political prisoners at will.
We have to stop the scandal of the condemnation of Islam Hamed; we must mobilise everyone who defends fundamental human rights. Achieving his release would be a collective victory, an important step towards urgent justice, for which Palestinians have been fighting for more than 73 years. A victory for all the oppressed and exploited in Brazil.
This clamour will also be remembered on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People —29 November—alongside so many others. However, it cannot stop there. Solidarity must be permanent and effective, inspired by the heroic and historic Palestinian resistance.
In this context, the campaign for the release of Islam Hamed and all Palestinian political prisoners must be revitalised. There is an urgent need to impose this symbolic defeat on the Zionist occupation and ensure the babies, who renew their forces towards free Palestine, can grow up alongside their father.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.