Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in Gaza and Ramallah in protests in support of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails on Wednesday, 7 August. The protests also supported the ongoing struggles of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon for civil, social and economic rights as well as the right to return to their homeland, Palestine. The protest in Ramallah was organized by Samidoun Network in occupied Palestine.
In the Ramallah protest, which launched from Manara Square, former prisoners – including former long-term hunger strikers – and family members of current Palestinian prisoners joined the march, including prominent leaders such as Khalida Jarrar and Khader Adnan.
The protests were inspired by the ongoing hunger strikes inside Israeli prisons against administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Over 200 people, including many youth and students, joined the march through Ramallah.
The Gaza protest was organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, supported by an alliance of Palestinian political parties and organizations. Hundreds marched through Gaza City, with the participation of women’s organizations, prisoners’ committees and the National and Islamic Forces.
Several leaders gave strong speeches saluting Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and emphasizing the ongoing struggle of the Palestinian people, not only to break the siege on Gaza and end administrative detention, but to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea. Protesters also carried signs in English and French from Samidoun and Collectif Palestine Vaincra, a member organization of Samidoun in Toulouse, France.
Huzaifa Halabiya from Abu Dis, Jerusalem, has been on hunger strike for 38 days against his administrative detention; he has been jailed with no charges since 10 June 2018, and his six-month-old daughter was born while he was imprisoned.
Ahmad Ghannam, Sultan Khallouf, Ismail Ali, Wajdi al-Awawda and Tareq Qa’adan are also on hunger strike against their own administrative detention, and dozens of Palestinian prisoners are joining solidarity strikes for their freedom, including 16 prisoners of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who joined the strike on 6 August.
Members of Halabiya’s family participated in the Ramallah protest and delivered an audio message to the Gaza march as Huzaifa continued his hunger strike despite severe deterioration of his health. He is a leukemia survivor who was burned as a child over the majority of his body, requiring ongoing medical care and treatment, yet he has put his life on the line in a hunger strike for freedom.
Administrative detention orders can be issued for up to six months at a time with no charge or trial. They are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinians can spend years at a time jailed under administrative detention without knowing when, or if, they will be released. Administrative detention was introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and adopted by the Israeli state following the Nakba.
Both protests also focused on expressing the unity of the Palestinian people, including supporting Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, who have launched weeks of ongoing protests following a crackdown on Palestinian workers by the Minister of Labor, a representative of the far-right Lebanese Forces party, which emerged from a militia with a history of massacres against Palestinians and collaboration with Zionist forces invading Lebanon during the Civil War.
Palestinian workers are already forbidden from 70 registered professions in Lebanon. Refugees in Lebanon have also noted cuts to UNRWA services and attempts to liquidate their most fundamental right – the right to return to their homes and lands in occupied Palestine. They are demanding political, civil and social rights, a struggle that is also supported by many Lebanese parties and forces, viewing it as critical to confronting Zionism and imperialism in the region.
Samidoun Network in Occupied Palestine delivered the main speech at the Ramallah protest, translated below:
To the sons and daughters of the Palestinian people everywhere…
Here in the heart of occupied Ramallah and under the sun of our homeland, we join with you today in our struggle, under our united Palestinian flag, the flag of Palestine, to continue our journey of liberation with all of the free people of the world until we achieve our freedom, full, undiminished and undivided.
Today, we stand with the Palestinian people, the supreme reference of the cause, in occupied Jerusalem, our united capital, in the West Bank, Gaza, Haifa, the Naqab and the Triangle, all of our occupied land. We stand with our prisoners steadfast behind bars, with the brave wounded, with the workers and peasants, with Palestinian strugglers holding fast to the embers of the idea and the weapon of resistance.
Let the spark of the intifada of return and liberation begin from the camps of our people in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. United, let the world hear our cry and our clear position: Down with the occupation! Down with the U.S. liquidation projects, Zionism and the reactionary Arab regimes, the so-called “Deal of the century.” It will inevitably fall beneath the feet of the Palestinian people who have brought forth so many strugglers, who will rise from the ashes and mark the path of revolution and the uprising of return and liberation everywhere, to trample the attempts of Trump, Netanyahu and Bin Salman.
We declare the following:
First, we warn of the serious deterioration in the health of the striking prisoners, especially the ill prisoner Huzaifa Halabiya and for all of the sick prisoners, especially the prisoner Bassam Sayeh. We call on all international institutions to play their responsible role toward the striking and sick prisoners immediately and to pressure the Zionist occupation for their immediate release. We emphasize that there will be a strong reaction of the Palestinian people if our prisoners suffer any harm.
Second, we call on all of the forces, political currents and national figures, inside and outside occupied Palestine, to unite under the banner of return and liberation, to asset before our people and everywhere: the final and complete end of the catastrophic era of Oslo, leaving the arena of division, fragmentation and disintegration, and progressing with confidence and determination to popular unity and unity of action in confronting the occupation and its plans and putting an end to the U.S. liquidation project.
Third, we urge the struggling Palestinian people everywhere to initiate this unified struggle in the squares, streets and universities, to march together, hand in hand, on the path of an Intifada of return and liberation, and to unite immediately with the struggle of our people in the camps in Lebanon, with the valiant resistance in the occupied homeland and with all of the organizing and efforts of the Palestinian people in exile and diaspora, near and far.
Fourth, we affirm that our popular march is continuing, and we will announce upcoming demonstrations in the coming days, for all of the organizations of our people inside Palestine and in the diaspora to unite in marches of return and liberation, for the freedom of the prisoners, the achievement of the return to the homeland and the sweeping of settler-colonialism from our occupied land.
Fifth, we salute the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network internationally, for its continuous daily confrontation of the Zionist movement and its racist organizations in North America and Europe, and we congratulate you on the victories that you are achieving against these repressive forces, particularly in the German capital Berlin, with the ongoing and successful struggle against all attempts to muzzle the mouths of Palestinian activists and strugglers and silence the international boycott movement and supporters of the resistance.
Sixth, based on the principles of common struggle with all progressive forces in the world, freedom fighters and anti-colonial strugglers everywhere. We declare our support for all political prisoners and detainees in reactionary Arab prisons and in the prisoners of dictatorial regimes around the world. We call on the international solidarity movements supporting Palestinian rights to make the issue of the prisoners a top priority and work hard to demand their release in all international forums and platforms.
Seventh and finally, we pledge to the martyrs, the wounded and the prisoners to follow in their footsteps and on their path of struggle.
Accordingly, the activities of the coming weeks will be held in honor of the martyr Naji al-Ali, through joint activities with our people in Lebanon, so that the memory of Naji al-Ali will remain in the conscience of our people as a revolutionary torch in their hand until return.
Freedom for the prisoners….return for the refugees, dispossessed and displaced people. Return and victory is certain – our struggling people remain steadfast and victorious!