ONGOING protests in the occupied Palestinian territory and around the world are demanding the release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese militant for Palestinian resistance who has been imprisoned by France for more than 32 years.
A rally was held on Monday in front of the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City, organised by the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun reported.
Demonstrators burned posters of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, French President Francois Hollande, and US President Barack Obama who, the PFLP said, are the ‘three rulers most complicit in the imprisonment of Georges Abdallah and Palestinian prisoners.’
A message from imprisoned PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat was also read out at the rally by PFLP member Haneen Ammar. In his statement, Saadat said that ‘the prisoners’ struggle for freedom is one struggle with that of comrade Georges Abdallah… his liberation will be a victory for all oppressed people, all prisoners of conscience and victims of torture, a triumph of the rights of the peoples, and of the Palestinian struggle for freedom.’
An event in support of Abdallah was held on Tuesday afternoon in Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank, and in the Israeli city of Haifa on Wednesday, as rallies were also held around the world, including in Beirut, Athens, Tunis, Paris, Istanbul, and Chicago.
Former head of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Brigade, Abdallah was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 after being accused of involvement in the 1982 murders in Paris of US military attache Charles Ray and Israeli diplomat Yacov Barsimantov, and the attempted murder of US Consul General Robert Homme in Strasbourg in 1984, during the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon.
He has been eligible for release under parole since 1999, for which he has repeatedly been refused. According to Samidoun, Abdallah has remained politically active throughout his time in prison, notably joining a mass hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers.
• Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip denounced remarks made by Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman during a rare interview with Palestinian newspaper al-Quds on Monday, calling the ultra right-wing minister’s conditional offer to ease the blockade ‘blackmail.’
In the interview, Lieberman said that Israel would agree to end its stringent blockade on the Gaza Strip and help build an airport, a seaport, and an industrial zone in the coastal enclave if Palestinian factions agreed to stop digging tunnels under the border with Israel and firing rockets at Israeli towns.
Hamas movement spokesman Hazim Qasim said that the Israeli-imposed siege on Gaza was a ‘crime under humanitarian law and must be ended,’ and that ‘our people has a natural right to have access to the outside world, including an airport and seaport that can guarantee the right to movement and travel, which are of the most basic of human rights.’
However, he said that these rights should not be dependent on blackmail and political stipulations. A people under occupation have the right to possess means of power, including military ones, so as to be able to defend themselves against continuous Israeli assaults,’ Qasim said, adding that this right was ‘not debatable.’
Meanwhile, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) politburo member Salih Zeidan rejected Liberman’s proposal, which he said wasn’t more than a political manoeuvre to attempt to blame the Palestinian resistance for the crippling siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Zeidan added that Israel had not complied with the truce reached in Cairo following the devastating 2014 conflict, which stipulated that Israel limits the buffer zone inside Gaza to 100 metres and opens more terminals to allow the flow of goods into Gaza.
Zeidan said that the agreement had also stated that Israel allows the construction of a seaport and an airport in the Gaza Strip. Gaza, he added, ‘has the right to have seaport and airport, but Israel has not complied with what has been agreed on.’
Israeli officials had previously raised the possibility of allowing an airport in Gaza in exchange for a cessation of Palestinian hostilities in March 2015. The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade since 2007, when Hamas was elected to rule the territory. Residents of Gaza suffer from high unemployment and poverty, as well as the consequences of three devastating wars with Israel since 2008, most recently in the summer of 2014.
The 51-day Israeli offensive by Israeli authorities, resulted in the killing of at least 1,462 Palestinian civilians, a third of whom were children, according to the UN. The UN has said that the besieged Palestinian territory could become ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020, as its 1.8 million residents remain in dire poverty due to the Israeli blockade that has crippled the economy, while continuing to experience slow-paced reconstruction efforts aimed at rebuilding homes for some 75,000 Palestinians who remain displaced since 2014.
• At least 15 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces between Monday evening and dawn on Tuesday across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, including a security guard for the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, amid mounting tensions at the holy site over the Jewish high holiday season.
According to the Islamic Endowment, or Waqf, which runs the Al-Aqsa compound, Israeli forces detained Muhannad al-Zaghal while he was at the entrance to the compound’s Chain Gate, where he works as security guard.
Meanwhile, head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners Amjad Abu Asab said that Israeli forces stormed the Bab Hutta neighbourhood of the Old City and detained five young men, who he identified as Raghib Abu Sneina, Munir al-Ajlouni, Muamin Hashim, Majd Sharifa, and Nasser al-Ajlouni.
Separately, Israeli forces confiscated 11 Palestinian-owned vehicles during a raid in the Wadi al-Hummus area of Sur Bahir east of Jerusalem, on Monday evening. The Israeli army reportedly alleged that the vehicles were used in attacks against Israel and for transporting undocumented Palestinians into Israel.
In the southern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces raided the village of Nahhalin west of Bethlehem and detained three teenagers, identified in a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) as Abd al-Karim Shakarna, 18, Khalaf Shadi Najajra, 14, and Omran Yousif Najajra, 16.
Palestinian security sources said that Israeli military vehicles also stormed the city of Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank, where they ransacked several homes.
PPS said that Israeli forces detained 30-year-old Nidal Jaafar from the Jenin-area village of Arraba, and Mahmoud Mamun Hawashin, also from the Jenin district. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed two detentions in Jenin, claiming one was a ‘Hamas operative.’
Muhammad Subhi Nimr, 23, was detained from the al-Amari refugee camp in the Ramallah district in the central occupied West Bank, which was confirmed by the Israeli army spokesperson, who said that another Palestinian was also detained in the Ramallah-area town of Deir Abu Mashal.
The PPS statement said that Israeli forces also detained Muhammad Wajih Hilal from the village of Beit Ur al-Tahta in Ramallah on Monday evening, adding that 18-year-old Makram Shakir Ghawi was detained from Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank.
Separately, locals from the southern West Bank city of Hebron said that Israeli forces raided the city, and ransacked the home of Jad Sultan, who was detained in a raid two days before. According to his family, Israeli soldiers brought Sultan with them during the Tuesday night raid on his home.
When the Israeli troops withdrew, they fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters at other houses in the neighbourhood, according to the family. An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports of the raid on Sultan’s home. Israeli forces conduct overnight detention raids on a near-daily basis across the occupied West Bank.
According to documentation, some 118 Palestinians were detained, predominantly during overnight detention raids, in the first ten days of October alone. According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians are being held in Israeli prisons since August. The organisation estimates that 40 per cent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.