When my blood lights up


23 Mar 2023 04:31pm
A Palestinian national flag hangs on an electric cable in the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on Feb 17, 2023. - (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
A Palestinian national flag hangs on an electric cable in the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on Feb 17, 2023. - (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

I took a few steps from my home and into the warmth of the sun. Green lands perfumed with the scent of Palestine carried me.

Good and bad memories came to mind, I had always longed to see this lush pastured scene.

But now in my thoughts I was surrounded by cold walls that blocked light, air and the far-off horizon.

Detention works side-by-side with oppression and death.

I had spent five years in jail on two occasions. The allegations on my indictments were mainly my national loyalty.

I once received a written order from the Israeli intelligence service to sit for an investigation, I tore it to pieces because I didn’t want my life to be underestimated. At that time, I started to incite young people to resist detention and oppose investigations into their lives.

Our freedom is the most precious thing we have. Prison cells have always worsened our wounds and increased our suffering.

I convinced others, mainly the youth to resist unfair detention, even though it would result in them being wanted by the Israeli police and force them to disappear and hide away.

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This action works against the occupier and instils the spirit of challenge within the hearts of young Palestinians. A few months later I was detained again – for the ninth time.

Being locked in a dark dudgeon, where Israeli soldiers beat my chained body was deeply humiliating and oppressing.

Their punches and their weapons have left permanent scars on my body. Their barbarism itself stood before me, literally.

For them, I was just a number. The jailers tried to rip away my dignity but I treasured my freedom and held tight to patience.

Freedom beckoned me from the moment I was first imprisoned, it haunted me. My quest for liberty also drove me to bolster the morale of my friends and brothers.

I came to the idea of how I could break the chains and destroy the arrogance of the jailer by declaring that I would go on hunger strike, alone.

I knew what the consequences might be, but freedom is precious and martyrdom is honourable.

I went on hunger strike, I counted on nothing except belief in my Lord.

Time for me was unlimited, every day passed like a year, each day became heavier than the day before. Mentally it wasn’t easy at all, however I was determined to teach the occupiers a lesson in dignity and defiance, they the occupiers spared no means in their bid to weaken me.

I will never forgive their insults; I was usually showered by the jailers. I will not forget how they moved my weak, faint and emaciated body from one prison to another, even my organs collapsed.

They tried to kill me by neglecting me medically. I cannot forget what they did, even now. They tried to weaken me. Their hatred, oppression and brutality still live with me.

They pretend to act humanely it front of the rest of the world, but they don’t. Once they forced me into court when I couldn’t walk, I was surrounded by dozens of soldiers and judges. In my mind the judges acted, not like real judges, they inflamed the spirit of defiance in me.

I screamed “The hunger strike continues until I get my freedom, dignity and honour.” The courtroom shook.

The words I had spoken brought me from weakness to strength, from exhaustion to wellbeing.

They quickly got me out of the court. They wanted to extinguish my voice.

For sixty-six days, I refused food, I did not eat and just drank salt with water. I called it the Sol of Dignity.

During my struggle I occupied my mind by recalling the sun on the distant green lands. I missed most of all the feel of grains of sand, the scent of the almond and lemon trees.

My resistance proved that the occupier will never understand our story and our love for our land.

My health deteriorated completely. They harassed and pressured me.

They wanted me to end my hunger strike and negotiate, I bluntly refused. Determination made me stronger, I demanded to go home, to my family, to my daughters, who had spent long periods of their childhoods without me since I was jailed.

In the end the occupier gave in to my demands and I was to be freed after a short time.

I thanked Allah, I prostrated myself, I ended my hunger strike.

Knowing that I was not the only one who had to resort to a hunger strike, my soul always smiles when my fellow prisoners’ rebel against the occupier.

Free we are, free we were born.

This is a chapter from The Prisoners' Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, a compilation of 22 Palestinian prisoners' experiences in Israeli jails.

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