War Prisoners NOT Political Prisoners

Administrative detention issue has finally surfaced to the top. Khader Adnan ended a 66 days of hunger strike after bringing world wide attention to this issue. Now Hana Shalabi, another administrative prisoner, is on hunger strike since the night of February 16. People from all over the world rallied in solidarity with Khader. They demanded that he be tried and charged or released. They rallied in support of Palestinian “Political” prisoners. But it is about time to get our terminologies right.

There is currently over 5000 Palestinian locked-in the occupation’s prisons. 307 of those prisoners are locked-in under what the Israeli government calls “administrative detention”. They have managed to draw them apart from the thousands in the Israeli prisons. We went along with that. We started referring to the the administrative detainees as political prisoners, as if the others are criminals. Pro-Israel advocates have picked it up arguing that the thousands in prison have civilian blood on their hands. Nonetheless, the fact is that very few of those thousands took part in any attacks against civilians.

Armed Struggle

Palestinian factions started targeting civilians in the period in 1994 after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in Hebron. These operations stopped in 1996. In September 2000, the second Intifada erupted after the Israeli attack on Al-Aqsa mosque. Four months of bloody Israeli attacks on Palestinian civlians, factions returned back to targeting civilians in 2001. These attacks were stopped in 2005, with the exceptions of rockets fired from Gaza. Despite taken the lives of 22 civilians since 2000, these rockets remain unsubstantial.

I do not hesitate to condemn targeting civilians. Though, I blame the occupation that created an unbearable suffering for many Palestinian families. Few helpless and hopeless Palestinians launched deadly attacks on civilians in efforts to create a balance of fear. Palestinians who sacrifice their lives for the cause are heroes. But nothing excuses targeting civilians. My position is not a result of PR and media estimations. It is a result of my deep belief in our morals and ethics. Unlike the Zionist occupation, we have morals and ethics that we stand for. We cannot allow the occupation to destroy them.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) managed to bring the world’s attention to the Palestinian sufferings. They did that by hijacking civilians planes. Even then, PFLP operatives had clear orders not to hurt any civilian. They protected all civilians in those flights and later freed them. . The only incidents were civilians were hurt is when Israeli special forces were involved. The Israeli Army’s clear and public position is to end any hijack or kidnapping incidents at any cost even if it meant the death of civilians. This is not an accusation, this is the announced public stand of the army. Even in military operations, the soldiers have direct orders to kill any kidnapped soldier.

Few weeks ago, a rare video was released for the Palestinian leader Khalil Al-Wazir Abu Jihad. It was filmed in a meeting in 1985. Abu Jihad was planning with other Palestinian fighters for a military operation in Palestine. This was filmed for internal documentation purposes, not for media release. In this video, Abu Jihad gives clear orders to avoid hurting any civilians. He reminded the Palestinian fighters of the ethics and moral of our struggle. Armed struggle does not involve targeting civilians. It is confined in attacking military targets. It is our right to conduct an armed struggle against the occupation. It is not only right, but it is also granted in UN resolution 3070. I will not make any ethical concessions to excuse targeting civilians. But I will also not compromise on our right to carry arms, just to please those who have ignored our suffering for so long.

War Prisoners

As I said, the vast majority of Palestinian prisoners who have been convicted in Israeli courts did not take part in attacks against civilians. And the 307 “administrative detainees” are not political prisoners. They are all war prisoners. The calls to charge them and put them under trial is not ethical. The occupation is illegal; thus, there is no such thing as legal system under occupation. In the dictionary of the occupation, law does not exist. What we face are military orders that we must rebel against. When we accept being tried in Israeli courts, we normalize occupation. We normalize it as a legal authority. The absence of a legitimate representative for the Palestinians participated in this confusion. But now it is about time to tell the lawyers, stand aside. We refuse to defend our acts of struggle. Palestinian prisoners are war prisoners not political prisoners.

Since 2005, some Palestinians villages in the West Bank engaged in an unarmed resistance against the occupation. Despite a huge success in bringing attention to the Palestinian sufferings, Palestinians remain subject to daily violations of their basic human rights. Dozens of Palestinians were murdered in demonstrations in the past 7 years. Thousands were injured. Hundreds arrested. And the Israeli daily raids and attacks on Palestinians escalates day by day. It is the time to attack Israeli military targets. Only then we will grab the attention of governments. Only then they will take us seriously. And will start to see substantial results on ground.

5 thoughts on “War Prisoners NOT Political Prisoners

  1. What is legal according to occupation? Nothing.
    If you fire rockets, this is illegal. If you throw rocks, this is illegal. If you demonstrate, this is illegal. If you film, this is illegal. If you strike, this is illegal. If you still exist, this is illegal.

  2. Thanks Maath, for the link to the Abu Jihad video. You make a valid point: the language we use to describe Palestinian prisoners is really important & we should always be aware of the danger of normalisation & submitting to an Israeli colonial narrative. My view is that the discourse which also has to be resisted is the one which labels ALL Palestinian prisoners as “security prisoners”. This deliberate negation of political struggle impacts on Palestinian prisoners as individuals with human rights and on the wider Palestinian struggle for freedom from occupation, apartheid & colonialism. Defeating the criminalisation of resistance is important – they are not petty thieves & murderers – but the “security threat” discourse goes further in attempting to erase the context of ethnic cleansing, violence & denial of freedom from Palestinian life and attempts to justify the regime of brutality & humiliation which is the Israeli arrest & detention system.

    Within the context of “attacking Israeli military targets” (a non-peaceful third intifada?) this negation of Palestinian resistance will go into overdrive and will seem much more justified to those outside. It will be crucial therefore to continue to define the Palestinian struggle as one against a Israeli system of colonialism, apartheid & occupation, uniting all Palestinians, including prisoners.
    Al the best, John @jksnowdon

  3. Maath, thank you for including Abu Jihad’s video, priceless. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for being so straight to the point, as usual. We, Palestinians, need more people like you.
    Salam la ro7ak el taybe..

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