Comrade Khaled Barakat, Palestinian activist and writer,speaking from Beirut, said that the intensifying attacks carried out by the Israeli occupation and its security institutions, particularly in the West Bank and Jerusalem and inside the prisons, will fail and will only make the PFLP stronger.
“These attacks were expected,” said Barakat. “The recent mass arrests against what the occupation believes and claims to be cadres of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine came in three waves. The first was immediately prior to the capture of the three Israeli settlers near al-Khalil. The second was the occupation’s exploitation of these events to conduct mass arrests against hundreds of Palestinians, which included members of the PFLP who were released in the October 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange with the Palestinian resistance. The third came during and after the occupier’s criminal aggression on Gaza. The occupation also has repeatedly denied and blocked Palestinians from leaving the country who it believes or alleges to be connected to the PFLP or related institutions.”
These mass arrests, Barakat said, indicate the occupation’s deep fear of the eruption of a third intifada, particularly in the West Bank and Jerusalem. “The goal of these arrests is that the occupation targets what it believes to be the influential cadres in the organization, who would play a key role in mobilizing Palestinians to resist. Mostly, those who are targeted in such arrests are organizers, leaders in their communities, who deal directly with the masses in a daily relationship in their areas: cities, towns, villages, and refugee camps. The second objective of these arrests is to spread an atmosphere of fear and terror. However, this is a failed policy on the part of the occupier, because this has been their policy since 1948 until today: the mass imprisonment of Palestinians is a daily phenomenon since the beginning of the occupation of Palestine.”
“If the occupation thinks that by arresting cadres and isolating them that there will be no second layer of leadership to stand up and organize, then the occupier is deeply misguided and ignorant. From its founding in 1967 until the present day, the PFLP has not been broken or weakened due to mass arrests. It only proves that the PFLP is very relevant to the struggle to liberate Palestine. It has been historically, continues to be today, and always will be,” Barakat said. “For example, take Dheisheh refugee camp, or what we call ‘the red castle.’ The occupation forces on a nearly daily basis invade Dheisheh camp and arrest and release PFLP members and other Palestinians. The mass arrests did not decrease the level of resistance in the camp. In fact, it is the opposite.”
Barakat also noted that “these mass arrests are also related to the convening of the Seventh National Conference of the PFLP. The occupier wanted to target the Front in a pre-emptive manner before it completes its processes of renewal stemming from the conference. There have been numerous reports of a high level of Israeli interest in the new leadership elected at the Conference, and attempts to test the will of the organization. Historically, the occupier fears the internal power in the PFLP, if that power is released. The Front is not a ‘small faction,’ nor does it have the military or financial capabilities of Hamas and Fateh. But the Front possesses all of the elements of a rising organization of Palestinian revolutionary resistance, and the occupier seeks to prevent this by all means.”
Remarking on the Israeli assassination of Comrades Moataz Washahe and Saji Darwish, Barakat said, “These are young revolutionaries who belong to the new generation of the Front. They were born in the era of the shameless Oslo agreement. They are the generation of the resistance.”
“The occupation attempted to use the smokescreen of its brutal war on Gaza to implement a very dangerous policy in the West Bank, targeting the resistance through the PFLP. It sought to expel Palestinian leader Khalida Jarrar from her city of Ramallah to Jericho, thinking that it would get away with this action and that it would pass in silence, and then it would become a daily and systematic policy. They selected Khalida Jarrar to be the first ‘test case’ of such a policy. But the decision of Jarrar and the Front and the Palestinian and solidarity movement was to confront such policies through organizing and resistance. The occupation’s order did not weaken the Front; in fact, it brought wider solidarity attention to Jarrar’s case and to the Palestinian resistance, and unified Palestinians inside Palestine to resist such policies and attacks,” Barakat said.
“The occupation obviously was defeated in the case of Khalida Jarrar. But it shows their reactionary mindset. They believed that they will get away with this by terrorizing her and her family, but she and the Front stood firm and in fact turned the situation into a victory for Palestinians, and her protest tent became a center for organizing in the city of Ramallah,” said Barakat. “The key role that was played by organizing in Ramallah, various activities in Gaza despite the severe situation there, and the overwhelming support from international solidarity campaigns: all of this combined was a true demonstration of strength, organizing, strategizing and that cannot happen without the strength of the PFLP.”
“The occupation’s repeated denial of Palestinians’ right to travel and leave the country and the repeated imposition of house arrests, comes simultaneously with a systematic campaign of denying family visits to Palestinian political prisoners. This campaign has included the General Secretary of the Front, Ahmad Sa’adat, who has been denied family visits for three months. This is a new battle with the occupation. Denying family visits is an attempt to isolate prisoners completely from the outside world. Israel cannot be allowed to get away with this new form of isolation – and it will not,” Barakat said.
“Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat has rarely been allowed family visitation from his initial kidnapping by occupation forces in the assault on Jericho prison in March 2006. He has been prohibited from hugging his only grandchild. Several of his children are barred from visiting him. He was held in isolation for three years, from 2009 through 2012, and was denied all family visits during that time. A campaign is needed against the racist policy of prohibition of family visits, a mass punishment of entire Palestinian families, at Palestinian, Arab and international levels,” said Barakat. “Our experience as Palestinians has taught us that if the occupation takes something from us under any pretext or any basis, ‘temporary’ or ‘permanent,’ it will not be returned without a fight, without struggle.”
Attacks against the Front are not limited within Palestine, Barakat said. “We see two major campaigns against the PFLP outside Palestine: first, the listing of the Front on so-called ‘terrorist’ lists of the United States, European Union, and other imperial powers; and second, the distortion of the image and positions of the Front. The listing of Palestinian resistance organizations on ‘terrorist’ lists is designed to silence and isolate the resistance. These policies and campaigns must be confronted by solidarity movements and organizations who stand with Palestine, and not limit the understanding of the Palestinian struggle only within the West Bank and Gaza. Our struggle includes all of Palestine, and all Palestinians in the shatat: the map of Palestine, and the map of our people everywhere. All of these attacks by imperialist powers and their allies against a Palestinian political organization have only been met with resilience and determination, and increased resistance as the enemy escalates its attacks.”
“The Front is, by all means, getting stronger every day, because it is a necessity: a social, political, revolutionary alternative for liberation and return. The Front is the only Palestinian organization alive that practices true democracy. They elect their general secretary, deputy general secretary and all of their layers and levels of leadership. They are the organization that has an Arab resistance pole and an international pole of struggle,” Barakat said.
“Many people expressed their positive surprise about the Front’s military march in Gaza. It was an obvious demonstration of qualitative progress in the Front’s capabilities, support and level of organizing. The Palestinian Left, led by the PFLP, has many great challenges to confront. Attacks from the enemy are a primary challenge. But they are also facing internal Palestinian political questions: the need to mobilize the masses, students, and youth, women and men, workers, and listen to and prioritize the voice of the Palestinian impoverished classes. The Palestinian Left is stronger among the popular classes because it finds a true incubator and revolutionary strength that protects the organization in the face of all challenges, unlike any other classes, which make the Left more vulnerable and weaker,” said Barakat.
“Simply said, the more the organization is embedded within the masses, the more it is stronger in the face of the occupier and in confronting the enemy.”