Around 400 people held on Saturday, May 13, 2017 a protest in front of the Israeli Consulate in Toronto in support of the what they called the Palestinian “political prisoners” in Israeli jails who started on April 17, 2017 a hunger strike.
The following are excerpts from the official statement issued by the organizers of the protest:
More than 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike on April 17 for their basic human rights. Join us at the Israeli Consulate to support their demands and to urge the Canadian government to pressure the Israeli government to stop violating prisoners’ rights!
Demands of the strike include:
* End to denials of family visits
* Access to a public pay telephone to communicate with family members
* Appropriate medical care and treatment for sick prisoners
* Right to access higher education at a distance
* End to solitary confinement
* End to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has unleashed a wave of repressive tactics, including the denial of family visits, the denial of legal visits, confiscation of clothing (even toothbrushes and underwear), conducting violent prison raids and reportedly confiscating salt from the prisoners; the viral #SaltWaterChallenge campaign on social media has highlighted the way strikers have consumed only a mixture of salt and water to prolong their survival.
Since 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been detained under Israeli military orders. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have called on Israel to end “unlawful and cruel” policies towards Palestinian prisoners.
The speakers at the protest described the Palestinian prisoners as “political prisoners” and the same message was also written in signs held by the participants. One sign read “Freedom for Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Jails!” and another “Free All Political Prisoners, Free Palestine.” Two signs featured Marwan al-Barghouti, a Palestinian prisoner who leads the hunger strike and another poster entitled “dignity strike” featured a group of Palestinian prisoners that includes among others the following persons:
- Marwan al-Barghouti – According to the court at his trial, Barghouti operated under the direct command of Yasser Arafat and was beyond any doubt directly responsible for murderous activity. He was convicted of terror attacks that were performed following his direct orders, in which 5 people were murdered. In addition, the court said that Barghouti was morally responsible for many other terror attacks in which many more Israelis were murdered. Documents captured by the IDF in “Operation Defensive Shield” (April 2002) shed light on Barghouti’s involvement in commanding the terror efforts under Arafat. In those documents, Barghouti asks Arafat to authorize payments to several lists of Fatah terrorists, while he himself was approached by local commanders who asked him to authorize payments to terrorists from their units.
- Ahmad Sa’adat – The Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist group in Canada. Sa’adat was convicted of the assassination of the Israeli Tourism Minister, Rehavam Ze’evi and other terrorist attacks carried put by PFLP. He was sentenced to 30 years in jail.
- Fuad Shoubaki – Amid (Brig. Gen.) Fuad Hindi Hijazi Shoubaki (“Abu Hazm”) was the head of the accounting administration of the General Security Service and confidant of Yassir Arafat, the former Chairman of Palestinian Authority (PA). In his official capacity, Al-Shobaki stood behind the Karine-A deal with Iran and was involved in a large-scale acquisition of arms from various sources in the Palestinian Authority administered territories and abroad. Those arms were delivered to the Palestinian Authority security apparatuses and to Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist squads. They were subsequently used for perpetrating terrorist attacks against Israel. Shoubaki was sentenced to 20 years in jail.
- Nael al-Barghouti – Barghouti was convicted of killing an Israel officer in 1978 and sentenced to life in jail. He was release in a swap deal with Hamas in 2011 and later was re-arrested after he violated the the conditions of his release.
- Thaer Hamad – Hamad was convicted of killing 7 soldiers, 3 civilians and injuring others in shooting attack in March 2002.
- Ayman al-Sharabati – Sharabati was convicted of terrorist attacks aimed at Israeli citizen including killing one and injuring another. He was sentenced to life in prison.
- Karim Yunes – Yunes was convicted of killing an Israeli soldier in 1981.
- Dia Zakaria Shaker al-Agha – Al-Agha was convicted of killing an Israeli citizen.
- Yassir Mahmoud Abu Bakr – Abu Bakr, an operative of the terrorist group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was convicted of killing two Israeli citizens, including a nine-month toddler, and an Israeli policeman.
The most famous of the so called “Palestinian political prisoners” is Abdullah al-Barghouthi, who was a leading commander of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in the West Bank and was also one of the organization’s chief bomb makers (“engineer”).
Barghouthi was convicted of involvement in terror attacks including the suicide attacks in Café Moment and Sbarro in Jerusalem, the Sheffield Club in Rishon Lezion, and the bus 4 line in Tel Aviv. In total, Barghouti was responsible for the murder of 66 Israelis and the injury of some 500. In 2004 he was sentenced to 67 life sentences.
In his book “The Prince of Shadow” Abdullah al-Barghouthi tells the story of his life focusing on his role in masterminding the series of deadly terrorist attacks aimed at Israeli civilians.
The following are excerpts from his book (originally Arabic), that shed a light on the terrorist (“political”) nature of Barghouthi’s activities:
Blowing donkey’s head in live experiment of an explosive charge
“One day when I stayed at the warehouse I [went] to pray the morning prayer at the village’s mosque and on my way back I noticed a white donkey, which had no tail because one of the teens set its tail on fire few months before. After the [second] Intifada broke out [September 2000] one of the teens wrote on its two sides [of the body] the words ‘death to [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’ and since that day the name of this donkey was Sharon’s donkey.
“An idea occurred to me and I went with it. I grabbed Sharon’s donkey and I went with the donkey to the warehouse, and from there I took one of the bobby-trapped cellular phones and rode on the donkey to a land lot owned by my father, which is located in a land in the outskirts of the village [most probably Beit Rima], which is planted with olive and almond trees, many many almond [trees].
“There I placed the [cellular] phone on the head of donkey ‘Sharon’ and I tied it tight. I dialed the [number of the] phone from another [cellular] phone and the line was automatically connected. After I moved away from the donkey Sharon, meaning Sharon’s donkey, I heard the sound of its breathing through the other [cellular] device which I had with me. I sent the command from my cellphone in order to blow other cellphone, and thus the head of the donkey Sharon was blown.
“That was the first live experiment I executed in Palestine, and thus Sharon became headless. In spite of the small size of the cellular phone the [explosive] material I planted inside it was very powerful, and even more powerful than necessary”.
Chronology of suicide bombing attack in a restaurant
“The [story of the] hero, the martyr of al-Qassam [Brigades] Izz a-Din al-Masri… I asked Iyman Halawa [commander of al-Qassam Brigades in the area of Nablus] to send me one of the people who want to blow themselves…
“After long thought the cell of Muhammad Daghlas was chosen to carry out the operation. The main reason was that Muhammad Daghlas had a very important thing and this was the sister, the jihad fighter Ahlam al-Tamimi… I knew that she was chosen based on the highest specifications in terms of full discretion, high sense of security and true belief in the path of Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades…
“In the next morning, without knowing that it was the day in which the suicide bomber Izz a-Din al-Masri was about to arrive from Nablus to Ramallah, Bilal [al-Barghouuthi] came early to a mosque in order to pray there and to wait to a person who would escort him in carrying out the operation.
“After I gave Bilal the code word and the [code] word for identifying each other he went and brought Izz a-Din al-Masri… [to] one of the apartments that I had rented…
“Bilal returned to my apartment and told me what he did. I said to him: ‘well done’ and asked him to go to a shop for musical instruments to buy for me a guitar… with a case made of leather…
“Bilal returned and placed the guitar on the table and said: “who do you intend to give this guitar to? Is there an operation other than the operation of the suicide bomber Izz a-Din al-Masri?’ I said to him: ‘I won’t start today [carrying out any operation] but the operation of Izz a-Din al-Masri.’ He replied: ‘Where is the explosive belt?’ I said: ‘The time of the explosive belts is over and now it is the time of the explosive melodies.’
“After that, I asked him to instruct Muhammad Daghlas to call Ahlam al-Tamimi to arrive in the City of Ramallah…
“The previous night… I started preparing and bobby-trapping the guitar and that took all night and when I finished I laid my head down on the pillow to sleep… I woke up to the sound of a knocking on the door and I was told that Ahlam arrived in Ramallah…
“I gave Bilal the guitar and he went to the place where Muhammad Daghlas and the suicide bomber Izz a-Din al-Masri stayed…
“I sent a message to Bilal al-Barghouthi to dispatch the suicide bomber, Izz a-Din al-Masri, with Muhammad Daghlas in order to bring him to the sister Ahlam al-Tamimi. After that, when the dawn came, less than an hour and half since the go-ahead, Ahalm Tamimi greeted the suicide bomber and brought him to Jerusalem after she crossed the checkpoints without being checked or having any trouble as she had journalistic document that made it easier for her to travel between cities, and as she was a young lady and did not attracted attention [as a potential suspect]…
“The martyr Izz a-Din al-Masri arrived at… Sbarro restaurant [in Jerusalem]. He crossed the street heading to the restaurant carrying the guitar… I was the one who decided that the guitar would be the device [used by the suicide bomber] and not the explosive belt, as across the street in which Sbarro restaurant was located there were a music school and a store of musical instruments. Some of the students of this school would walk in the street carrying their musical instruments and some of them would enter [Sbarro restaurant] to eat pizza carrying their musical instrument without being checked by the security guard, who was standing at the entrance of the restaurant. Thus Izz a-Din [al-Masri] arrived [at Sbarro restaurant] without an impediment of any kind. His appearance was very ordinary in terms of clothing, which I chose for him…
“The suicide bomber Izz a-Din blew himself up and climbed to the sky… he managed to kill 15 Zionists and to injure 156, most of them suffered permanent impairments and disabilities… [I wish you Izz a-Din al-Masri] the gardens of eternity and Allah will take care of you…”
Endorsers and Supporters of the protest in Toronto (May 13, 2017)
- Aboriginal Students’ Association at York University
- Afghans Against Extremism – YorkU
- Afghans Against Israeli Apartheid
- Afghans United for Justice
- Amnesty International – Canada
- Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation – Victoria
- Canada Palestine Association
- Canadian BDS Coalition
- Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario
- Canadian Peace Alliance
- Christian Peacemaker Teams – Ontario
- Communist Party of Canada – Parkdale Club
- Faculty for Palestine
- Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
- CUPE Ontario
- CUPE 3902
- CUPE 3902 Flying Squad
- CUPE 3902 – Racialized Members’ Collective
- Friends of Ghassan Kanafani Foundation
- Independent Jewish Voices – Canada
- International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
- Justice for Palestinians – Calgary
- Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy
- Kurdish Students’ Association at York University
- McMaster Womanists
- Organizing Committee Against Islamophobia
- Palestinian and Jewish Unity
- Palestinian Solidarity Network – Edmonton
- Quebec BDS Coalition
- Revolutionary Community Party (PCR-RCP)
- Revolutionary Student Movement at YorkU
- Socialist Action
- Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – Concordia
- Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – McMaster
- Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – Western
- Stop the JNF – Canada
- Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University
- Students for Justice in Palestine at UOIT/DC
- Students for Justice in Palestine at Ryerson
- Tamil Freedom Coalition
- Toronto Against Fascism
- Toronto New Socialists
- Toronto Students for Justice in Palestine
- United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel – Toronto
- University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union
- United South Asians at York
- Women in Solidarity with Palestine
- York Federation of Students
- #WeAreUofT Radio