Palestinian prisoner Maher Younes freed after 40 years behind occupation bars

Palestinian prisoner Maher Younes was liberated from Israeli occupation prisons on Thursday, 19 January 2022 after 40 years behind bars. Younes was the longest consecutively-held Palestinian prisoner after the release of his cousin, Karim Younes, on 5 January. Samidoun extends its salutes to Maher Younes for his years of steadfastness and resistance behind bars as a leader of the liberation movement.

Immediately following his release from occupation prisons, he traveled to the ‘Ara cemetery in his hometown in occupied Palestine ’48 to visit his father’s grave, where he was received by his cousin Karim. His release comes after several days of ongoing attacks on Younes’ family by occupation forces, including multiple threats of arrest if any celebrations are held in public for his freedom, especially those raising the Palestinian flag, while his brothers and other relatives were taken for interrogation. Occupation officials ordered extensive police, special units and intelligence units deployed in ‘Ara and around the Younes family home to prevent by force any celebrations of his liberation.

Two days before his release, Maher Younes was transferred to interrogation and then to isolation in Ohli Kedar prison, in order to even prevent a collective celebration with his fellow prisoners of his liberation. Guards stormed his section of the Naqab desert prison and snatched him away, at that time to an unknown location. Despite all of this, however, people flocked from the town to the Younes home to welcome him with love and honor after 40 years behind the bars of the occupation.

The images of Karim Younes’ celebration two weeks ago, which reflected the unbreakable will of the Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people, and the deep rootedness in the land of Palestine despite a century of colonization, were followed by a series of threats by occupation officials such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, including an order to ban the flying of the Palestinian flag and threats by Zionist interior minister Aryeh Deri to strip both Karim and Maher Younes of their citizenship. (On the day before Maher Younes’ release, Deri was ruled ineligible to hold his position due to his multiple prior convictions for corruption.)

Despite all of the threats and attempts at intimidation and silencing, Maher Younes’ release and return home, like that of his cousin Karim and all Palestinian prisoners, has only once again illustrated that the commitment of the Palestinian people to liberation has not been and never will be quenched by arrests, killings and colonial conquest.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network congratulates Maher Younes, his family and the entire Palestinian people upon his release. We know that the joy of his release will only be complete with the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners — and the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea. On the occasion of Maher Younes’ release, we pledge once more to work tirelessly for the liberation of all 4,750 Palestinian leaders, resisters, strugglers and revolutionaries in occupation prisons.