Former Palestinian prisoner Taysir Suleiman has lived in Turkey since his 2011 release from Israeli detention as part of the prisoner swap deal negotiated by Hamas and occupation forces.
As a Jerusalemite, Suleiman’s release was conditional on his being sent into exile. He has been living in Istanbul since.
In Jerusalem, Suleiman tells MEMO at the Palestine Media Forum in the Turkish city, “there was a large number of Israeli occupation controls and we lived under their grip”.
After a couple of years of carrying out resistance operations which saw them take control of a number of weapons from Israeli forces, Suleiman was arrested and handed a life term.
Over a period of 18 and a half years, he was transferred between 24 prisoners across Israel and the occupied territories. He says during this time occupation forces worked to break the prisoners’ morale. “Life in prison is built on morale. In prison, the occupation works to break your morale which led you to resist it. It doesn’t want you to be a revolutionary or to rebel against the occupation’s actions.” But the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement operates in every prison, he explains, and its purpose is to “raise people’s morale so when prisoners are released they become like we are now, fighting by every means available to us in the countries that we are in to regain our rights as Palestinians and to continue our armed struggle in our Palestinian lands because if we are not strong on the ground we will not be able to free it.”
Since his release, Suleiman has been working to keep the stories of the resistance in the media. “The resistance needs a media arm to defend it,” he says.
“As long as there’s an occupation then there must be resistance,” Suleiman adds.
“If there are those in the world who wish to free the Palestinian people without spilling a drop of blood then we are with them, but we hope that a cascade of Palestinian blood will not continue while such efforts are being exerted,” he says of the criticism levelled at Palestinian fighters who are battling Israel’s army. “We in Palestine have been forced to use weapons because the occupation is killing us with its weapons.”