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The Battle of Unity and Dignity
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
February 4, 2019

The confrontations between the Palestinian prisoners and the Israeli executioner have been renewed. They are also a culmination of the "silent" battles, waged by the occupation, in order to extract the achievements of the Palestinian movement over years of struggle in defense of their rights and dignity.

If the attacks on the prisoners, are at the core of the prison authorities 'strategy, this round of aggression against them, comes within the framework of Netanyahu and his allies' attempt to open the file of the Palestinian prisoners, within the definitions, reached by the Knesset through bills that put them at the top of the list of "terrorism", added to the conditions of the US administration, which seeks to obliterate the status occupied by martyrs and prisoners in the hearts and minds of Palestinians.
A battle that is not new, but takes on different dimensions at this stage, in which the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government combine all their weapons on the "hope" of subjugating the Palestinians to the project that takes away their rights and obscures their cause.

By experience, the prisoners are proficient in managing their battles with the occupation authorities and prison administrations. They know their weapons, by which they have won various stations. In the forefront of their weapons, is the unity in determining the details of the confrontation, and the report of the level of the truce and escalation, linked to the responsiveness of prison administrations with their demands. Although the concept of equivalence is not applicable at all in the battle between the prisoner and its executioner, however, the captives’ movement has created, through the will power and patience, an equivalent that has doubled the sources of its strength and enabled it to withstand and win several times.

But what should break this unfair equation, is outside the prison walls, through the Palestinian political and popular role in supporting the steadfastness of the prisoners on the one hand, and pushing strongly towards putting the international community and its legal and human rights in front of its responsibility towards the issue of prisoners and detainees on the other hand. Besides, at the same time, confronting the American-Israeli attempts to separate the issue of prisoners and its entitlements from the top of the Palestinian national agenda through political pressure and financial sanctions.

Palestine has been affiliated with a wide range of United Nations institutions and conventions, including the International Criminal Court and the four Geneva Conventions and their annexes. This enables it to arbitrate the international community and its relevant institutions in the issue of prisoners and the necessity of the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to the Palestinian prisoners, as prisoners of war and aggression, waged by the occupying state against the Palestinian people and its fighters who have the right according to international legitimacy, to resist the occupation, and expose Israel’s position which deals with them as criminals and terrorists. At a time when international law describes what the occupation army is doing against the Palestinian people as war crimes and crimes against humanity, whose practices range from execution in the field to torture in prisons to the ethnic cleansing.

The above relies primarily on the official Palestinian leadership, which has the means to move politically and diplomatically at the regional and international levels and in the United Nations, through the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the representatives of Palestine in the international forum and the relevant UN institutions. It is also related to Palestinian forces, factions and community institutions. It is important to point to the supposed role of the “Palestinian Democratic Gathering”, as it presents itself as a factor of correction to the path of national action, whose agendas have suffered from a mix of priorities and the absence of most of them, in the shadow of increasing of Palestinian crises by division and following the wrong politics.

Perhaps it is important to emphasize that the Gathering with its political and social components, related to its joint program, can turn the issue of prisoners and detainees and other issues, such as settlement, to fields of popular confrontation with the occupation and settlers, especially that it is concerned to reach the segments most affected by the occupation policies, such as the families of detainees and prisoners, and those who are daily harmed the most by the expansionist policies, in the forefront are farmers, peasants, and the owners of confiscated land and destroyed homes, as well as those who are threatened with deportation from their villages and property. All these are important social factors in the rise of the popular resistance on the road to a comprehensive intifada.

On the other hand, Netanyahu uses the issue of Palestinian prisoners, in the service of his electoral speech, from the angle of inciting against them and inciting the families of the killed and wounded soldiers and settlers, by the resistance operations, and presenting the resistance fighters as murderers in front of Israeli society, and then he releases the gangs of prison guards in their repression and torture and undermining their dignity to earn more voices of voters, as well as the voices of the settlers, who are agreed with his expansionist policies in looting Palestinian land, destroying homes and deporting their owners.

In the past years, Netanyahu has suspended the release of the fourth batch of former prisoners, according to an agreement through the US administration to pass the return to negotiations. It has revealed that he sought to do so, in order to satisfy his allies from the right wing within the coalition government, and to not open the door to bid on him, as he is the one who sits in practice on the right of everyone in the Zionist political and partisan map. It is worth mentioning that Netanyahu has escalated the incursions into Palestinian cities and towns and the accompanying arbitrary arrest campaigns, in order to highlight the West Bank, as a source of tension, in order to justify the pressure on the Palestinian Authority, accuse its security services of inaction to pursue the youth of the Intifada and call for developing the security coordination to reach the level of cooperation.

At a time we should emphasize the importance of the issue of prisoners and their social, political and humanitarian depth, we should emphasize on the importance that the serious attention to this issue, must be from the point of reconsideration of the national liberation program with all its titles, thus the issues integrate and the efforts of the Palestinian people and its political and community forces unite, in an open battle with the occupation, which is fighting us on all fronts (settlement, killing, arrest and continuous destruction). It is natural with this that the field unity and the pressure of the popular resistance, to push towards stopping the repercussions of the division, abort it and restore the political and program unity, under the banner of the unified program, the program of Intifada and resistance, on the road to embody the rights of return and independence.

The issue of prisoners and detainees is the issue of every family in Palestine and is expected for further complication, with the continuation of Israeli detention operations. It is a whirl that ends only by the resistance of the occupation and its expansionist and aggressive policies until the departure of it and its settlers, and establishing the Palestinian State with full sovereignty on all the Palestinian Occupied lands by the 1967 war with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Mohammad Al-Sahli is Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Rasha Abo Allan
Revised by Ibrahim Motlaq

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