Over a thousand Palestinians gathered in Asira al-Shamaliyeh village near Nablus to welcome Bilal Kayed after his release from 15 years in Israeli prison on Monday, 12 December. Kayed, a prominent leader in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement inside Israeli jails, became well-known across Palestine and internationally when he launched a hunger strike for his freedom on 15 June.
Scheduled for release on 13 June after completing his 14.5-year sentence for involvement with the Palestinian resistance through the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the second Intifada, Kayed was instead ordered to six months in administrative detention without charge or trial, indefinitely renewable. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners across political lines joined his hunger strike inside Israeli jails, while demonstrations across Palestine and around the world demanded Kayed’s freedom. Thousands marched and joined actions and events in the US, Canada, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Brazil, Chile, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, South Africa and elsewhere to demand Kayed’s freedom.
The reception for Kayed’s release was attended by his family, comrades, and friends; he spoke to the crowd, emphasizing the importance of Palestinian national unity and the strength of Palestinian steadfastness. Former hunger strikers Khader Adnan and Mohammed al-Qeeq joined the celebration, as did former prisoners Rula Abu Deho and political leader Khalida Jarrar. Abla Sa’adat, women’s movement activist and the wife of imprisoned PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, also participated in the celebration. Speakers echoed the call to intensify the struggle to free all of the Palestinian political prisoners behind Israeli bars, including current hunger strikers Ahmad Abu Fara and Anas Shadid, on hunger strike for 80 days to demand an end to their administrative detention without charge or trial.