Banished Palestinian fighter: ‘I had the right to fight this occupation’

At Electronic Intifada, Joe Catron writes: “Why doesn’t the international community support the fighters of Palestine?” Iyad Abu Khaizaran asked, sitting in his Gaza apartment.

Abu Khaizaran, 41, was one of 477 detainees freed on 18 October 2011 in the first phase of Hamas’s prisoner exchange with Israel, and one of 205 banished by Israel from their homes in the West Bank. Like 163 others, Abu Khaizaran, a native of Tubas, was forcibly relocated to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas had reached the deal with Israel to free, in two phases, over a thousand Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier they had captured in 2006.

A day before the exchange, two Palestinian human rights organizations, Addameer and Al-Haq, said in a statement that the “terms violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons, a proscription that is part of customary international humanitarian law.”

The organizations added: “Unlawful deportation or transfer also constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and qualifies as one of the most serious war crimes” (“Between a rock and a hard place: the fate of Palestinian political prisoners,” 17 October 2011).

However, Abu Khaizaran was less interested in discussing his own banishment than the Palestinian struggle. “I had the right to fight this occupation,” he said. “International law allowed me to do that.”

“I didn’t care about the length of my sentence, or how many years I would spend inside Israeli jails,” he added. “Our struggle was just. For this reason, I was never sad during my imprisonment.” [Continue reading…]

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