From Damascus to New York, solidarity with imprisoned Palestinians

Throughout the world, movements for social justice and people’s liberation recognize that one of the most important acts of solidarity is support for political prisoners. Those who have sacrificed their freedom for the liberation struggle and suffer in the clutches of the oppressor must not be forgotten. The people must fight for their health and freedom to give confidence to others to join the struggle.

Occupied Palestine is a crucible of political prisoners. Subjected to decades of brutal military occupation and apartheid rule by the Zionist Israeli state and its U.S. masters, the Palestinian people continue to fight for their homeland. And today, up to 5,500 Palestinians, including children, are held in Israeli prisons, where they are subject to indefinite detention, isolation and torture of all sorts.

The incredible injustice that Palestinians are subject to, and the heroic resistance of prisoners imbued with the Palestinian spirit of resistance, is demonstrated by the case of Heba al-Labadi. 

Al-Labadi is a young Palestinian woman with Jordanian citizenship — forced to live in the diaspora as are so many banished from their homeland by the racist occupation. In August, she was seized by the Israeli military at a border crossing as she accompanied her mother to a family wedding. 

Al-Labadi was tortured and interrogated for weeks before being hit with a six-month “administrative detention” order — which allows Israel to hold Palestinians without charge or trial, and can be renewed indefinitely. The charge against her was publishing “inciting posts” on social media. She launched a hunger strike on Sept. 24.

Finally, after weeks of international outcry and protests, Heba al-Labadi suspended her hunger strike on Nov. 5, after 42 days. According to al-Labadi’s attorney, an agreement was reached for her to be released and returned to Jordan, along with another Jordanian citizen illegally held by Israel, Abdelrahman Meri. 

Supporters remain on alert until her safe return and concerned for the long-term effects of torture she endured.

Protest supports prisoners, hits Turkey-U.S. invasion

The fight for imprisoned and exiled freedom fighters intersects with many other struggles. Think of how Mumia Abu-Jamal and Assata Shakur have inspired the movement against racist police terror in the U.S.

And so in Damascus, the Syrian capital, an important rally was held on Oct. 29 in a public park. The action supported the struggle of Palestinian prisoners and condemned NATO member Turkey’s invasion of eastern Syria in collaboration with the Trump and Netanyahu regimes.

The action was organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leading Marxist voice of the Palestinian resistance, and the Syrian Unified Communist Party, just a day after U.S. President Donald Trump bragged at a conference of police chiefs in Chicago that “We’re keeping the oil” in eastern Syria. “Remember that. I’ve always said: Keep the oil. We want to keep the oil – $45 million a month. Keep the oil.”

“What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly,” Trump said at an earlier news conference.

Washington, first under the Obama administration and later under Trump, violated Syria’s sovereignty and international law by arming and funding reactionary groups in a failed attempt to overthrow the country’s government. Earlier in October, Trump briefly bluffed that he was going to withdraw U.S. troops illegally stationed in eastern Syria — opening the way for Turkey to invade. 

Many displaced Palestinians live in Syria, and Israel illegally occupies the Syrian territory of Golan Heights.

The Damascus protesters linked the struggle to defend Syria’s sovereignty with the cause of prisoners in the Israeli occupation’s prisons, “affirming that the detainees’ case is not only a humanitarian one, but it is the most important case of the conflict with the Zionist enemy and a main part of the struggle of the Palestinian people for their legitimate and inalienable rights,” the Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

Speakers drew parallels between the determined struggle of the Palestinian prisoners and that of the Syrian people, who have persevered through years of U.S.-Turkish-Israeli sponsored terrorist war and continue to resist foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs and to defend the country’s sovereignty.

They fear Khalida Jarrar

Before dawn on Oct. 31, some 80 heavily armed soldiers and a dozen military vehicles surrounded the home of Khalida Jarrar in the West Bank. Jarrar was seized and detained, as were other members of the PFLP. More raids were reported on Nov. 5.

Jarrar was taken to Ofer prison, where an Israeli military court on Nov. 3 extended her detention for another eight days, citing “secret evidence” by the military prosecution.

An outspoken member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, a leading feminist and advocate for prisoners, Jarrar has been an implacable voice for the Palestinian cause at home and abroad. As such, she is deeply feared by the racist occupiers, and has been jailed many times — most recently for 20 months under administrative detention. She was released just eight months ago.

The PFLP condemned the Israeli raids against Jarrar, Ali Jaradat and “dozens of cadres in different parts of the West Bank, as well as the storming of the homes of detained comrades” as “nothing but a failed and desperate attempt to break the will of the Front and … discourage it from continuing the path of resistance that it has planned with its solid positions and the sacrifices of its comrades, martyrs and prisoners.”

The PFLP called on the people to take the streets in protest and “pledged to the masses of our people that we will continue the path of resistance and will not deviate from it, however the targeting of its leaders, cadres and institutions escalates.”

Join Days of Action Nov. 8-11

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network has called for Days of Action Nov. 8-11, highlighting the cases of Khalida Jarrar, Heba al-Labadi and Samer Arbeed. 

Arbeed, a husband and father detained on Sept. 25, has been brutalized so severely that he is hospitalized and hooked up to a dialysis machine. But the torture continues — Israel interrogators even tear gassed Arbeed in his hospital room!

During the days of actions, supporters are urged to organize or join an event or protest for the Palestinian prisoners, write letters and make phone calls to protest the violation of Palestinian prisoners’ rights, and support the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In New York, an action is planned for Nov. 9. In addition to raising the plight of the Palestinian prisoners, the protest will support the #BoycottPuma campaign to force the sneaker company to withdraw from lucrative dealings with Israel.

For more information on planned actions, updates on prisoners’ cases, and downloadable protest signs and flyers, visit Samidoun.net.

Photos: Oct. 29 rally in Damascus, Syria, supports Palestinian prisoners.