“The colonialists called Palestinians, who were driven out of their homeland as ‘terrorists’, while they won’t admit that Zionist occupation is the peak of terrorism in Palestine. We have to be determined to struggle by all means.”
This was how Palestinian freedom fighter Leila Khaled graced the webinar launching of the month-long campaign #FreePalestine last October 3. Led by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), international organizations and networks marked the whole month of October as a Month of Global Solidarity with the Palestinian people. This comes after the recently concluded September 2020 Month of Global Solidarity for the Philippines which highlighted international solidarity against Duterte’s reign of terror.
The Palestinian resistance is a historical one. It has come a long way from the Palestinian people’s core struggle for their right to their homeland and self-determination. Israel’s imposition of an apartheid regime through repressive systems, systematic targeting and destruction of the Palestinian communities, lives, and livelihood have all contributed to the strengthening of the people’s resistance. It sparked two historical Intifada (Arabic term which means “shaking off”) uprisings in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Any Palestinian who has lived under occupation through all these years would never second-guess in joining the resistance.
Struggle for the right of return through the years
Khaled became iconic in the international scene when she hijacked an Israel-bound plane in 1969 to draw attention to the Palestinian cause. She became a member of the Palestinian National Council and represented the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), an organization which has waged resistance against Israel occupation and Western colonization since 1967.
Just two weeks ago, Khaled was reportedly censored and restricted by multiple online platforms Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube while she was speaking at a webinar organized by professors at San Francisco State University. Despite the highly-organized attacks by Zionist-backed corporations to silence Palestinian voices, Khaled was unshaken, and she still agreed to talk about the Palestinian narrative during the ILPS campaign launch last October 3.
“I was born in Haifa. Now I am not allowed to go back to our house in Haifa because somebody else is living in our house. They are the Zionists who obliged my family to leave and massacred pregnant women in our community. We were forced to go to Lebanon, and our life was miserable as refugees,” Khaled related.
Recounting her experiences as a young girl, Khaled continued, “When I went to school, our classroom was a tent. When it was winter time, it fell over us. I didn’t know what a real school was like. All the children who were driven out by force from Palestine were asking their parents –’why are we living in tents when we had a home back in Palestine?”
In her keynote speech, Khaled also pointed out that Israel has gone all out in its denial of the Palestinian people’s right of return until today. “Despite the UN Resolution 194 that called for the returning of Palestinian refugees to their homeland, Israel denies our existence because their ideology is that no people were ever in that place called Palestine”.
“The world looked at us as a bunch of refugees, not as people who were driven by force. The people as the owners of their land should have the right to determine their own future. But under this apartheid Israel regime, we were never allowed to do that,” Khaled added.
Zionist occupation, peak terrorism in Palestine
The Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, backed by the US government, has always been a tool for grave war crimes against the Palestinian people. The use of prisons, detention centers, and checkpoints in the occupied West Bank have long been maximized for the de facto control of Israel state forces. Today, under Israeli Prime Minister Netenhayu, threats to the Palestinian people come at large with the Zionist-annexation plan, which would include Jordan Valley, the most fertile land in the West Bank. With these clear motives of Israeli land grab and full control, the real victims will always be the ordinary Palestinians.
This is what happened to Heba Labadi, a Palestinian-Jordanian former political prisoner who was abducted by Palestinian occupation forces on August 20, 2019 from the Allenby boarder crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank , where she had travelled to attend a family wedding in Nablus.
“They accused me of being a terrorist. I was put in isolation under miserable conditions for 33 days, they performed naked search on me, handcuffed me on a chair for long hours in a very cold room, and the list goes on. This is the true face of occupation, zero human rights,” Labadi said.
Labadi was sentenced by the Israeli occupation forces with six-months administrative detention, without a clear case filed. Soon after, she launched a 43-day hunger strike until she was freed.
“I took this decision to resist for my freedom because this is the only way. With all their illegal occupation policies, I used hunger strike as my weapon to fight,” she added.
Annexation plan as an imperialist program
The over 72 years of colonization, apartheid, genocide, land theft and ethnic cleansing of Palestine is now being legitimized by US President Donald Trump’s strong backing of Netenhayu’s annexation plan. This could mean that Palestine will be under the full mercy of Zionist Israel through settlements, segregated roads, and occupation army. This would create a huge impact not just on the political but economic rights of the Palestinian people.
“When Trump came to power and adopted the Zionist colonial project, he was liquidating Palestine. Israel was excited about it. They were building big city settlements in the West Bank, creating 1,400 kilometers of Israeli-exclusive roads. They wanted legitimacy for these colonial projects, but were denied by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. This is why they need Trump to legitimize the project,” Jamal Juma, coordinator of Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign discussed the most recent iteration of the U.S. government “deal of the century”.
Trump misrepresents it as “peace plan” but in essence fulfills a central objective of further marginalizing the Palestinian people through annexing almost all of the West Bank territory in violation of UN charters and International law.
“In this plan, they want to isolate the Jordan Valley, the biggest reserve in the Palestinian lands. By isolating this, they are destroying any form of Palestinian development,” Juma added.
The plan has always been a U.S.-backed vision of Netanyahu for “economic peace,” a code for an accelerated plunder of Palestine’s resources, lands and people.
Globalizing the Palestinian resistance
More than the decades of Zionist Israel occupation in Palestinian lands, the world is witness to the historical resistance of the Palestinian people. If there are passionate anti-terrorists and anti-imperialists out there, they are the Palestinians.
“The Intifada uprisings gave a lesson to the whole world, that the Palestinians will never ever raise the white banner. It will always be the Palestinian banner. We need to distribute the Palestinian narrative,” Khaled said.
“We also need to understand that we Palestinians are not the only oppressed people, there are many others out there. There are also a lot of Zionists out there, guiding the state forces in different countries how to oppress their people. This is why we need to make links, realize our shared oppression, and globalize our resistance,” Khaled ended.