Steadfast for Palestine: The Heroes of the Battle of “Breaking the Chains”

Dheisheh refugee camp, solidarity tent with hunger strikers © Reham Alhelsi

Dheisheh refugee camp, solidarity tent with hunger strikers © Reham Alhelsi

Seven Palestinian administrative detainees have been waging the battle of “Breaking the Chains” against administrative detention; Nidal Abu Aker, Shadi Ma’ali, Ghassan Zawahreh, Bader Al-Ruzza and Munir Abu Shara are on day 31 of an open hunger strike, Bilal As-Seifi is on day 25 of an open hunger strike, Sleiman Skafi is on day 19 of an open hunger strike. With their joint hunger strike, they united Palestine: united Al-Walaje with Nablus, Al-Jora with Dura, Ras Abu Ammar with Hebron. From behind Zionist bars they raise their voice against the illegal administrative detention and against injustice. Their struggle is for all of us, their message is unanimous, their demands are clear: an end to the policy of administrative detention, establishing an international commission on arbitrary administrative detention, physical and psychological compensation for administrative detainees, and defeating the law of force-feeding hunger strikers.
I sat with Im Nidal, Im Shadi, Im Ghassan and Im Bilal in their living rooms, simple houses in the steadfast refugee camp… I hadn’t been to Dheisheh since my beloved grandfather passed away one and a half years earlier… the refugee camp was the same… Im Nidal’s living room was the same… the graffiti leading to Im Shadi’s house was the same, Dheisheh’s narrow alleys and neighbourhoods were the same… it seemed that some things never change; you could still feel the power, the strength, the struggle in the narrow alleys of Dheisheh, you could smell the resistance coming from the simple houses, the same simple houses that produced the heroes and the martyrs of the First and Second Intifadas and the time before and after. Some things never change, the steadfastness, the dream of return and the belief in victory never change… We talked about the old days, about Dheisheh, talked about family members, and exchanged greetings, talked about relatives we hadn’t seen in a while because of work and other daily matters that keep people apart even when they are so close and shared so much… we talked about the hunger strikers, about the resistance, about those who sacrifice their lives so Palestine may live free and about those who betray Palestine so they may continue to live as slaves…. And it seemed, in the sea of all things constant, something do change; to some, betrayal and treachery have become a point of view … betrayal is no more a crime against man and land, but an opinion… this more than anything else pained us and still does, but we are partly to blame, because we, the Palestinian people, as the force leading one revolution after another, we don’t hold popular revolutionary courts for the traitors who are betraying Palestine, Palestinian constants and Palestinian rights. In Dheisheh I sat with them, the mothers of the four hunger strikers; steadfast and defiant like their children, strong and patient for their children, and always present at the tent of solidarity with the hungers strikers. These four Palestinian women from Ras Abu Ammar, Al-Jora, Al-Walaja and At-Ta’amra, together with their hunger striking sons, are the heroes of the battle of “Breaking the Chains”. I asked them the same questions; what was the latest news coming from the isolation cells where their sons are held captive, how do they see the solidarity actions with their children, what messages do they have for the Palestinian people, for those standing in solidarity with their children and for their children resisting the occupation with their empty stomachs and leading the battle of “Breaking the Chains”. Continue reading

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The “Battle of Breaking the Chains”: Towards the Freedom of Palestine and Palestinians

Palestinian hunger strikers © google images

Palestinian hunger strikers © google images

Nidal, Shadi, Ghassan, Bader, Munir, Sleiman, Bilal, Amer and Kayed
9 Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike, refusing to eat, refusing to surrender. 9 Palestinian heroes held captive in Zionist dungeons, breaking the walls of captivity, defying their jailor, protesting their illegal and inhumane detention. 9 Palestinian freedom fighters; their only weapon their strong will and the belief in their just cause, their only weapon their empty stomachs steadfast in the face of torture, intimidation and force-feeding. Hunger strikes have always been a legitimate and effective weapon of protest and struggle used by Palestinian political prisoners and detainees in the face of injustice. Whether mass hunger strikes that sweep Israeli jails or single hunger strikes that last for months; Palestinian freedom fighters continue to resist the occupation from behind Zionist bars and isolation cells. Their battle against their jailors, against the policy of administrative detention, against the sham courts of the occupation, is the “Battle of Breaking the Chains”; an on-going battle till all Zionist jails are empty, an on-going battle till Palestine is free from the River to the Sea. It is a battle to break the chains of all Palestinians held in Zionist captivity; those held captive in small jails and those held captive in the bigger jails defined by the infamous Oslo Accords, it is a battle against injustice, a battle towards the freedom of all of us. Continue reading

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From the Children of Palestine to the Secretary General of the United Nations

My name is Mohammad Abu Khdeir

Martyr Mohammad Abu Khdeir. Source: google images

Martyr Mohammad Abu Khdeir. Source: google images

I lived with my family in Shufat in occupied Jerusalem, and had 5 siblings. I loved playing, participating in social occasions, be it weddings or feasts. I loved dancing the dabke, which is a Palestinian traditional dance, and was member in a local dabke troupe. I loved birds, loved watching them sing, but could never own one because it meant caging them. I hoped one day to be free like a bird, and go places and travel. I was a pupil at a technical school, and studied to be an electrician, just like my father, to help him in supporting our family one day. I loved Ramadan; loved to go to the nearby mosque and pray there, to have Iftar (breaking the fast) with my family and friends, and to spend the evening with my friends laughing and joking. I loved to go to the mosque at dawn for morning prayer, to have that last drink of water before the fasting starts, and to help my father at his workshop. Because of my training as electrician, in the summer of 2014, I helped decorate the neighbourhood with lights in preparation for Ramadan. Continue reading

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Sheikh Khader Adnan: Starving for a Free Palestine, Struggling against Administrative Detention

Sheikh Khader Adnan's daughters © google images

Sheikh Khader Adnan’s daughters © google images

To my people, my family, and to the world’s free souls. . . I send my greetings, love, gratitude, and honour, which I draw from God, from your prayers for me, and from your sincere love… From my beloved al-Ramla city and its majestic minarets . . . I salute you again… I am not engaged in a personal fight for freedom. My battle is that of all Palestinian detainees who have been yearning for freedom and dignity…. Administrative detention is just one of the most despicable castigatory policies our people has ever witnessed. It shall forever stand as a scar on Britain’s and Israel’s face. From the bottom of my heart, I express my gratitude for your support and solidarity. May Allah restore our freedom so that we can rejoin our families soon. They [Israeli jailers] took it upon themselves to dash my hopes; I take it upon myself to win the fight by all means possible, God willing.”
Your brother and little son, Khader Adnan – Ramle clinic isolation.

With these words, Sheikh Khader Adnan addressed us, the Palestinian people, his people, from his isolation in Ramle prison. Our little son, as he preferred to sign his letter, is no stranger to Palestinian households nor is he a stranger to the entire free world; the 37 year old baker, father of 6 from Arraba, Jenin, has long become a living symbol of steadfastness, resistance and patience, for he is the face of Palestinian dignity and the igniter of the “battle of empty stomachs” against Israel’s administrative detention. Continue reading

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Palestine: A Case of Eternal Love

Palestinian children from Gaza © Abed Allah Alostaz

Palestinian children from Gaza © Abed Allah Alostaz

It is a clear-cut case…. it doesn’t need political or social or military “analysts”, it doesn’t need “middle east experts” or experts on the “Palestinian Israeli conflict”…. it is a clear-cut case, a case of eternal love; a pure love that defies time, a love that is inherited, that is transferred from one generation to the next, a love that moves in our veins, feeds the mind and enriches the soul, a love that keeps the heart pumping, a love that keeps us alive, a love that is life itself… it is the love of Palestine.

When you travel along Palestinian villages, you hear the houses whispering; beautiful houses, with their white stone darkened with the years, old houses with their green yards, arched balconies and domed roofs, with the jasmine flowers climbing the staircase and the poppies and the daisies decorating the threshold…. Beautiful houses, old houses, new houses, mixing the traditional with the modern, with their black water tanks, solar panels and satellite dishes, gathered in clusters, hugging one another, protecting one another, extending over hilltops and across valleys…. when you pass by these beautiful houses, you hear them whispering words of love to the olive field in the distance, and to the cactus walls defining the road to Safad and Bisan. Continue reading

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Freedom for Palestine; Freedom for Palestinian Political Prisoners held captive in Zionist Dungeons

Palestinian political prisoners © google images

Palestinian political prisoners © google images

They meet behind Zionist bars; fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and students, friends, neighbours, townspeople, relatives, comrades. They unite in their defiance of injustice; men, women, children, elderly…. none of them a stranger to the other, none of them a stranger to us, none of them a stranger to Palestine. They are held captive in dungeons, denied the air of Palestine, denied the sunrise and the sunset, denied the laughter of a family member, denied the tear over a martyred comrade. They sacrificed their freedom willingly, so the children of Palestine may enjoy a life free of occupation and oppression. They are buried alive in grave-like cells, so the future generations of Palestine may enjoy the sunrise over the mountains of Jerusalem and Safad, the fresh breeze over the meadows of Jenin and Bisan, the wind playing with the waters of Gaza and Acca. But, it is not they who are captive, for they have chosen to fight for freedom… it is us, who walk this land shackled by a brutal occupation. It is not they who are the living dead, for they live in dignity that defies the jailor… it is us, who walk in life content with less than full liberation and justice. It is not they who lost years in vain behind bars, for they teach generation to come the meaning of sacrifice and steadfastness… it is us, who waste our lives in pursuit of a false freedom and a false statehood. It is not they who are deprived of Palestine, for they have chosen to be one with Palestine… it is us, who betray Palestine when we go on with our lives while 6500 Palestinians are held captive. It is not they who are unknown, for Palestine knows her devoted children, every town, village and refugee camp in Palestine knows them, every house in Palestine knows them, every child in Palestine knows them…. It is us, who have yet to earn the honour to have our names recorded with those of the heroes of Palestine. They are the lovers of freedom, the defeaters of oppression, the heroes of Palestine. They struggle every minute, every hour, every day. They are steadfast in the face of Zionist inhumanity and world betrayal. They fight for our freedom every day, and in return we remember them only on the 17th of April. Palestinians Prisoners’ Day should be every day. They should be remembered every minute of the day, for they fight for us every minute of the day… their families suffer every minute of the day… they suffer for us every minute of the day. We will only be free when ALL Palestinian political prisoners are free… for they have chosen Palestine and they have chosen to sacrifice their freedom for the freedom of all of us. Continue reading

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Palestinian Mothers: The Pride of Palestine

“The most beautiful of all mothers is she, who waited for her son, and he returned a martyr… she cried two tears and flower and did not sit alone in a corner in the mourning clothes.”

Palestinian women © google images

Palestinian women © google images

Mariam, Aisha, Dam Il-Izz, Fatma, Sabha, Ahlam, Taghreed, Nawal, Dalal, Leila, Asma’, and thousands others… These are the sacred names that embody the land, the resistance and the promise of return. They are as scared as the olive tree that stands tall in the face of occupiers, faces them all and survives while they decay, steadfast and ancient, deeply rooted in the land. They are as sacred as the freedom fighter’s gun that is directed towards the occupying colonizer, teaching us that rights are not given but are taken, that justice will prevail. They are as sacred as the poppy that flourishes every spring, watered by the blood of the martyrs, reminding us that a promise is a promise, that the path of the martyrs is the path of us all towards liberation and return. They are as sacred as the land herself, as sacred as the mother of us all; as sacred as Palestine; holding us to her, giving us life, and telling us not to surrender, not to waiver, not to relinquish what is ours! These sacred names connect us to Jrash, Bisan, Haifa, Naqab, Deir Aban, Safad and all the villages and towns that were Palestinian and will rise up again Palestinian from under the rubble, from under the fake parks and from under the cancerous colonies. These sacred names preserve our heritage, our history and our culture; they sing to ‘Ataba and dance to dal’ona… they create the Milis, the Malaka, the Majdalawi, the Ikhdari… they draw paintings of the spring in Al-Jaleel, the plains of Marj Ibin Amer, the sunrise over the hills of Jerusalem, the sunset over the waves of Haifa and Gaza. These sacred names plant in us the spirit of resistance, keep it burning, shining in our hearts, leading our way, telling us that only through resistance will we be liberated, only through our sacrifice will Palestine be free and future generations will enjoy justice and true peace. These sacred names connect Jrash with Dheisheh, connect Haifa with Al-Yarmouk, connect Bisan with Ein Il-Hilweh, connect Al-Quds with Gaza, connect Palestine with Palestine. Continue reading

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International Women’s Day: Palestinian Female Prisoners and the Struggle for a Free Palestine


يوم المراة

Women of Palestine – International Women’s Day © google images

Palestinian women have always been part of the national struggle to liberate Palestine; they are the freedom fighters, the martyrs, the prisoners, the injured, the mothers, the sisters, the daughters and the comrades. They are the revolutionaries, the guardians of the land, the protectors of the revolution, the custodians of the sacred heritage. They stand in the face of oppression, occupation and injustice. They hold the gun, the sling, the hammer and the sickle, the pen and the brush, and fight, plant, write, sing and dance for Palestine. They are the symbol of resilience, steadfastness and patience, the symbol of resistance, dignity and heroism. They are the women of Al-Quds Jerusalem; standing up to Zionist colonialism, fighting for their birthright…. They are the women of Beit Sira, Al-Jalameh, Beita and Husan; steadfast in their land, resisting the Zionist occupation and the colonization….. They are the women of Ramle, Yaffa and Um Il-Fahim; refusing to be a “minority” in their ancestral homeland, refusing to be replaced by strangers to the land…. They are the women of Susya, Al-Araqeeb, Wad Fuqin and Al-Jahhalen; protecting the land, defeating ethnic cleansing…. They are the women of Dheisheh, Askar, Al-Maghazi, Ein Il-Hilweh, Yarmouk; holding on to the keys of return, planting the homeland in the minds and hearts of the generations to come, until liberation…. They are the women of Gaza; rising again and again, refusing to surrender, giving the world stories of heroism and steadfastness…. They are the women of Palestine; safeguarding the olive tree and the poppy, keeping Palestine alive in our heart, paving the road towards Palestine, all of Palestine, from the River to the Sea. Continue reading

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Malak Al-Khateeb: An Angel from Palestine Held Captive by the Zionist Entity

Malak Khateeb

Malak Al-Khateeb. Source: google images

Tears fell down her cheeks when the judge read the sentence, she shivered, cuffed and in a cage, surrounded by armed occupation soldiers. Her parents, sitting but a few meters away from her, shocked, unable to touch their daughter, hug her, comfort her, or wipe away her tears. “They treated her as an adult…. She is but a child.” Said Ali Al-Khateeb, in his sixties, his face tired, wrinkled with years under occupation, and great sadness in his tired eyes… “When the judge read the sentence”, Abu Yousif recalls:” I saw Malak wiping away her tears and shivering, I felt that a fire was burning inside my heart”. Her 50 year-old mother Khawla says: “In court, I cried with my daughter who is separated from me by a few meters, we could not touch her or talk to her, I wished I could embrace her, even for a minute, to make her feel warm.”

Malak Al-Khateeb, 14 years old, left her home in Beitin, near Ramallah, on the morning of 31.12.2014. The 8th grader had with her a copybook and a pen, and was heading to school to sit for her English exam, the last exam before the semester vacation. Afterwards, and while walking in the village lands, she was stopped by Israeli occupation forces, before being kidnapped to an interrogation centre. Four court sessions and three weeks later, 14 year-old Malak was charged on 21.01.2015 by Ofer occupation military court and sentenced to 2 months in jail, a 6000 NIS fine and 3 years under probation. Currently, the Zionist entity holds 6500 Palestinian political prisoners captive, including 214 children below the age of 18 years. Among the 214 children, 4 girls between 14 and 16 years old are detained, Malak being the youngest registered detainee till now. According to various statistics, Israeli occupation forces arrest around a 1000 Palestinian child annually, with 500 to 700 children brought in front of Israeli military courts. Alone in 2014, the IOF kidnapped 1800 children, mostly from occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli military law allows the prosecution of Palestinian children from the age of 12 years in military courts. Malak’s sentence was based on the testimony of five Israeli occupation officers in the patrol that arrested her. The indictment document claims that Malak was “in possession of a knife to stab the soldiers in case they come to arrest.”

Continue reading

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The ‘Black Sunday’ of Palestine: Oyoun Qarra Massacre, 20.05.1990

Oyoun Qarra massacre, 6:30 am on 20.05.1990 (Newspaper photo)

Abdil Rahim, Ziyad, Zayid, Sleiman, Omar, Zaky and Yousif carried their small lunch bags with a few bread loaves, a tomato and a sardine can, and said goodbye to their families in the early hours of Sunday 20.05.1990. It was very early in the morning, the sun hadn’t risen yet, and the refugee camps were engulfed in total darkness. The usually busy and noisy narrow roads and alleys were empty and quiet. The children were still asleep and dreaming of the toy and the colouring book their fathers will bring them back from work. The young women were still asleep and dreaming of the ring and the necklace their fiancés would buy so they could finally marry. The wives sat near their sleeping children and dreamt of the meat their husbands might bring back from work so they could cook a decent meal for the family. The mothers sat in the darkness, watching their children leave to work, and prayed that they reach their working place safe, find a job for the day and get paid so they can repair the leaking roof before the next winter. As they watched them disappear in the darkness, they prayed that their children come back safe to their homes and to their families. The roads and alleys of the refugee camps were quiet and empty, except for the sounds of the marching Israeli occupation soldiers, patrolling the open-air prisons, and holding the entire Palestinian population hostage to occupation and oppression. The roads and alleys of the refugee camps were quiet and empty except for the footsteps of the workers, heading to work in the early hours of the morning, hoping to find work that day, and thinking of their children, their mothers, their wives, their fiancés and hoping to be able to bring back toys, colouring books, food, a necklace and ring and enough money to fix the roof before the next winter. Continue reading

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