On Sunday, 8 August, a Saudi court convicted and sentenced dozens of Palestinian and Jordanian detainees on charges of supporting Palestinian resistance, underlining once again the complicity of Saudi Arabia in advancing U.S. imperialism in the region and protecting the interests of the Israeli occupation. The sentences, which can be appealed after 40 days, range from 3 years to 22 years in Saudi prisons.
During the hearing, only one person from each detainee’s family was permitted to attend the trials. Mohammed al-Khoudari, who had served as the official representative of the Hamas movement in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with half of the sentence suspended for a total of 7.5 years.
Mohammed al-Abed was sentenced to 22 years in prison, Mohammed al-Banna to 20 years, Ayman Salah to 19 years, Abdel Rahman Farhan to 19 years, Ayman al-Arian to 19 years, Mohammed Abu al-Rub to 18 years, Sherif Nasrallah to 16 years, Jamal Dahoudi to 15 years, Omar Aref al-Haj to 12 years, Basel al-Kurdi to 7 years, Saleh Qafa to 5 year, Hani al-Khoudari to 3 years, and Musa Abu Hussein and Ayman al-Akkad to 4 years imprisonment.
Some of the Palestinians and Jordanians sentenced in these cases had lived in Saudi Arabia for 50 years; they were detained 2.5 years ago in what was widely perceived not only as an attack on the Palestinian resistance and Palestinian rights, but also as a step advancing official Saudi normalization with the Israeli regime. Their work to support Palestine had been officially licensed by the Saudi monarchy in the past before their sudden arrest and detention. Many of the detainees’ families were also expelled from Saudi Arabia and their residency rights cancelled.
The cases reflect a policy of openly targeting the Palestinian resistance and adopting the false “terrorist” designation against Palestinian resistance organizations; rather than being arrested, charged or deported on vague allegations or traditional criminal charges, they were specifically accused of providing support to the Palestinian people and their resistance to Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism.
These unjust sentences were imposed against Palestinians living and working in Saudi Arabia and supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people. The sentences come as a mechanism of terrorizing Palestinians in Saudi Arabia and reflecting the Saudi monarchy’s full alliance with the imperialist powers that label Palestinian resistance as “terrorist.” Of course, they also come hand in hand with the imprisonment, torture and execution of Saudi political detainees seeking justice in their homeland, and the ongoing war of starvation and brutality waged on the people of Yemen by the Saudi monarchy, working hand in hand with the U.S. and other imperialist powers.
The Saudi role in the region has also included active and militarized support for destabilization campaigns promoted by the United States targeting Arab countries, as well as artificially suppressing oil prices as part of the U.S’ economic war on Iran, Venezuela, and other nations pursuing sovereign development in defiance of imperialism.
Family members of the detainees and Palestinian political forces expressed shock at the length of the sentences, noting that various negotiations had taken place, and they expected the files to be closed and the cases ended, particularly after the Israeli assault on Gaza in May 2021 and the Palestinian resistance’s successful defense of their land and people. The ruling had been suddenly moved from October to August, leading many families to believe that a diplomatic solution had been found that would free their loved ones.
Human rights institutions like Skyline International noted that they were arrested and interrogated without lawyers, denied legal visits and a proper defense, subjected to torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and that many of the detainees were denied proper health care, noting that a large number were elderly men.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network condemns the imprisonment of these Palestinian and Jordanian detainees by the Saudi monarchy, and urges their immediate liberation as well as the immediate liberation of all Saudi political prisoners in Saudi jails. This criminalization of Palestinian resistance and even charitable work, following in the footsteps of the imperialist sponsors that arm and support the Saudi monarchy, is not only a crime against these 69 detainees and their families but against the Palestinian people as a whole. It reflects an attempt to terrorize and suppress Palestinians living in Saudi Arabia, where many Palestinians have traveled for years to work and support their family.
Of course, these sentences come as no surprise and reflect entirely the role played by Saudi Arabia in the region, including its war on Yemen and its efforts to direct the compass of the Arab people away from Palestinian liberation, and its long-term alliance with imperialism as well as its undercover normalization with Zionism and the Israeli regime. Freedom for all Palestinian and Arab political prisoners in the jails of Arab reactionary regimes, imperialism and Zionism!