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Posts tagged “Ethnic cleansing

Muataz Washaha: Murdered by Israel as “peace” talks continue

1979563_10201543385455187_1445665841_n-1Words fail me. There are no words that can do justice to the martyrs that fall every day, the pain that intensifies in our hearts, the floods of tears from the oppressed. Words lose their strength for a Palestinian people who face a daily stuggle to survive under a brutal occupation that doesn’t recognize their most basic human rights.

What is more painful and disappointing is that our supposed “leadership” is complicit in these ongoing crimes and shamelessly provides the first line of impunity and defense for the Israeli occupation to continue attacking and terrorizing us. Very aware of how the situation is deteriorating to an intolerable extent, the leadership stays committed to meaningless negotiations that bring no justice to us or to our martyrs. Israel has killed forty Palestinians since the beginning of US-backed negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Before our people go to sleep each night, we always hope for a brighter morning with more security, freedom and justice. But everyday we wake up to witness more darkness, more brutality and more violations of our rights.

Cruel attack

On the morning of 27 February, we woke up to the news of an Israeli military raid on the central West Bank village of Birzeit, near Ramallah. The village lies very close to the Muqataa compound, where the Palestinian Authority lives with a delusion of having authority, guarded by an “army” unable to provide any sense of security to its people.

The Israeli forces besieged a house belongs to Washaha family, forcibly evacuated its residents and those of neighboring houses, destroyed parts of it and set the rest on fire.

Even more cruelly, the military kept its people watching as their belongings and memories burned and as Muataz Washaha, who was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was attacked.

The Israeli occupation forces had stormed the Washaha family’s house, looking for Muataz. They assaulted members of the Washaha family and detained his brother, Ramiz, as well as his friends Fadi Sedqi and Samir al-Qaisi.

A few months passed since 24-year-old Muataz Washaha was released from an Israeli jail. He knew very well what being imprisoned meant for he refused to surrender to the Israeli military. He prefered to barricade himself in a corner of his house and resist arrest. He chose to die within his home, where he had spent his childhood and youth.

“Do not worry”

“I will be free here. Leave and do not worry about me. I will stay here and not surrender. I will not return to prison.” These were the last words Muataz Washaha uttered to a civil defense worker, who was the last person to have access to him before the house was evacuated of everyone else.

The civil defense man had no choice than to kiss Muataz’s forehead and leave, respecting his wish.

Soon afterwards, the Israeli military located Muataz with its sophisticated technology and started shooting live bullets and shells at him. He was called on to turn himself in but Muataz would not. This unequal confrontation lasted for six hours, which were enough to kill Muataz a thousand times.

After the withdrawal of the Israeli forces,  Muataz’s body was found torn by tens of live bullets. His head had been hit by a rifle-fired Energa shell.

According to the Israeli military, Muataz Washaha was killed because he was “suspected of terror activity.” How ridiculous to read such a statement.

After the countless acts of terror the occupation forces have committed against the Palestinian people, they should be the last ones to speak about terror or define what terror is.

Daily injustices

1656153_644401292336478_467791466_nObserving the daily injustices that our people have to endure makes me frustrated — or, rather enraged — not against the occupation but against the Palestinian Authority. The question that I am wondering about is: what will be the reaction of the Palestinian Authority to the murder of Muataz Washaha?

Isn’t it the time for Mahmoud Abbas to be ashamed of himself for his commitment to the “security” of Israel and his declarations that it is “the utmost important challenge that the Palestinian security forces are dealing with”?

Why is the “peace process” continuing, when it is very obvious that Israel is not interested in peace?

The systematic ethnic cleansing process continues against our people in Jerusalem and settlements continue to expand as more “peace” talks take place. It is time for the PA to turn to the Palestinian people and stop compromising our rights.

The PA has to understand that our fight is about liberation and justice, not about a state and a flag, luxurious embassies all over the world, a few privileges or a travel document. Back in 1993, Edward Said wrote: “We should remind ourselves that much more important than having a state is the kind of state it is.”

Said insisted that “no negotiations are better than endless concessions that simply prolong Israeli occupation.”

Sadly, this is what we see happening on ground. More negotiations lead to more concessions.


Exile in Gaza is not the victory we want for our heroic prisoners

A drawing recently done by the Palestinian artist Doc Jazz

A drawing recently done by the Palestinian artist Doc Jazz

“It doesn’t matter if he goes to Gaza,” said Zahra Sharawna, Ayman Sharawna’s mother. “To be freed is the most important thing.” I understand how these words could come from a mother who fears for her son’s life. She, driven by her motherly emotions, simply wants him to live, even if many Israeli apartheid checkpoints separate her from him. But I must question was that actually the victory that Ayman Sharawna’s hunger strike aimed to accomplish, to get out of prison alive regardless of release conditions? I don’t think so.

A Palestinian’s fight has never been about oneself. It has always been a collective resistance of different forms, for the sake of collective justice for all Palestinian people. Some national principles identify our struggle for freedom. Every Palestinian revolutionary should be armed with them. One is embracing our right to return as the most sacred and ultimate goal.

“One whose hands are in water isn’t like one whose hands are in fire.” This traditional saying always comes to mind when I encounter a complicated situation many people would find it easy to judge superficially. I am not in a position to imagine the kind of inhumane pressure to which Ayman Shrawna was subjected. However, being a daughter of a former prisoner who served 15 years, and having intensively read and heard many ex-detainees’ prison experiences, makes me better able to guess.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemned Israel’s expulsion of Sharawna to Gaza calling it a “forcible deportation” which is a violation of international law. As such Israel alone is responsible, and we must consider that Sharawna is not acting of his own will.

But still, I was shocked to hear that the man who remained steadfast for nearly eight months of hunger strike, who tolerated all the pain and pressure attached to it, succumbed to such blackmail, to be expelled to Gaza for at least ten years in exchange for his release.  This wasn’t the victory of which I personally expected to hear. I reacted to the news with a shocked face and stony eyes, unable to shed a single tear.

Emotionally, I could celebrate and agree with Ayman that “both are my people, whether in Gaza or Hebron.” But I can’t help listening to my inner worries. I believe that our emotional reactions and stances will only serve the Israeli occupation’s long-term goals: turning the Gaza Strip into a ghetto isolated from Palestine, and expelling as many people as possible from the occupied territories in the West Bank and ‘48 Palestine. My fears that this will open the gate for Israel to intensify its systematic policy of ethnic cleansing against more Palestinian political prisoners left me unable to taste the victory in Ayman Sharawna’s release.

These worries flooded my mind, but Samer Issawi’s statement on deportation lessened my stress and cultivated hope instead.  His opinion was just what I expected, wonderful and strong from a stubborn man of dignity and poise, who continues his hunger strike of nearly seven months and doesn’t give up his principles for the sake of his own physical relief. He is aware of the long-term aims behind the inhumane practices of the Israeli occupation. He believes that his detention, a violation itself, cannot be fixed with a further violation.

According to him, this hunger strike isn’t a personal battle; rather, it’s a collective one. He refuses to be released with the condition of deportation, even within our historic Palestine.

Fawwaz Shloudi, a Palestinian lawyer, managed to visit Samer Issawi after many attempts and asked him whether he will ever agree to be deported to Gaza in exchange for his freedom. Samer answered:

Regarding the Israeli occupation’s offer to deport me to Gaza, I affirm that Gaza is undeniably part of my homeland and its people are my people. However, I will visit Gaza whenever I want or feel like it, as it is within my homeland, Palestine, which I have the right to wander whenever I like, from the very north to the very south. I strongly refuse to be deported to Gaza as this practice will just bring back bitter flashbacks from the expulsion process to which our Palestinian people were subjected during 1948 and 1967.

We are fighting for the sake of the freedom of our land and the return of our refugees in Palestine and the diaspora, not to add more deportees to them. This systematic practice by Israel that aims to empty Palestine of Palestinians and bring strangers in their place is a crime. Therefore, I refuse being deported and I will only agree to be released to Jerusalem, as I know that the Israeli occupation aims to empty Jerusalem of its people and turn Arabs into a minority group of its population. The issue of deportation is no longer a personal decision, it is rather a national principle. If every detainee agrees to be deported outside Jerusalem under pressure, Jerusalem will eventually be emptied of its people.

I would prefer dying on my hospital bed to being deported from Jerusalem. Jerusalem is my soul and my life. If I was uprooted from there, my soul would be uprooted from my body. My life is meaningless away from Jerusalem. No land on earth will be able to embrace me other than Jerusalem. Therefore, my return will be only to Jerusalem and nowhere else. I advice all Palestinians to embrace their land and villages and never succumb to the Israeli occupation’s wishes. I don’t see this issue as a personal cause that is related to Samer Issawi. It is a national issue, a conviction and a principle that every Palestinian who loves his homeland’s sacred soil should hold. Finally, I reaffirm for the thousandth time that I continue my hunger strike until either freedom and return to Jerusalem or martyrdom! (original translation by author)

International law prohibits the expulsion and transfer of people in occupied territories, be it deportation to another country or forced relocation within the occupied territory. Security Council Resolution 607 “calls upon Israel to refrain from deporting any Palestinian civilians from the occupied territories” and “strongly requests Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by its obligation arising from the Convention.” But these words, as history proves to us, are merely words. We have experienced enough empty words and conventions and “international human rights laws” that do NOT apply to us, as if our humanity is in question.

If the United Nations and the all the world’s governments keep of taking this submissive stance on Israel’s crimes and watch, reacting only with silence, we should NOT normalize their violations even if it costs us our lives. People like Samer Issawi teach us how  to stand firm and not compromise our rights. Thank you, Samer, for teaching us how meaningless life is without freedom and dignity.


The Dream of Return Will Never Die

I was watching a documentary report about Al-nakba Day, the day when my grandparents left their homeland by force in 15th of May, 1948. I was looking at my mother’s glittering eyes. “Are you going to cry?” I asked. “Your grandfather used to go every day to a high place in north Gaza called Alkashef Mountain. People used to see him sitting, pondering his raped homeland, Beit Gerga, and crying.” She said with that gloomy broken voice. My grandmother used to say a proverb sarcastically means that the lands are ours and the strangers fire us. She is completely right. I don’t understand how anyone could dare firing people from their lands.

Our poor grandparents thought that the immigration caesarean would be for a week or maximum two years. They were very simple and uneducated people that they didn’t understand the game that Israel and its allies played. Sadly, my grandparents died but they dreamed of return until the last moment of their lives.

I remember the times when I and my family were surrounding my grandmother listening closely to stories from her life. I used to ask her to tell us about Al-nakba every time. At first, she used to refuse complaining that she repeated that events millions of times to us. I am sure she never got fed up saying about that miserable day. She always did try to wag the nostalgia in us to our homeland which we have never seen.

When my grandparents were in Beit-gerga, their homeland, they were farmers, living for the glories of the land as every Palestinian that time. In Al-nakba Day, a ground invasion started. They became horrified. Many people from the north came running fearfully and barefoot. Huge numbers of victims died that day. One of them was my grandmother’s father. He insisted to remain home so they killed him. This was the fate of anyone who confronted them. My grandparents came to Gaza as refugees. Every single day they said “tomorrow we will return back,” but they didn’t. They died after leading that hard life and they never smelt the smell of sand again. My grandparents died but our dream of return has never died. We won’t stay refugees; we shall return.