by Khaled Barakat, originally published in Al-Akhbar
The historic victory of the national and Islamic resistance in Lebanon, led by Hezbollah, in May 2000, and the liberation of the South of Lebanon by force of arms, was the spark for and clear prelude to the launch of the armed Palestinian uprising in September 2000, typically referred to as the Al-Aqsa Intifada or the “Second Intifada.” This uprising cost the enemy more than 1,100 Zionist lives and 4,500 wounded, and the immortal battle of Jenin refugee camp in April 2002 was one of its most important outcomes, milestones and experiences. The name of Jenin, of this battle, was engraved like a tattoo in the collective memory of the Palestinian people, with all of the achievements and losses, knowledge and lessons taken from this glorious confrontation.
The Zionist leadership at that time did not expect that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the General Secretary of Hezbollah, would appear at the height of the Battle of Jenin in 2002, to announce the readiness of the resistance to hand over a captured Zionist officer in return for lifting the siege on the besieged Palestinian fighters in the camp. The statement offered: The release of the Zionist colonel in exchange for an immediate end to the attacks on the strugglers in Jenin camp and an end to the siege. At that time, the Zionist leadership refused this offer.
Mofaz, and Sharon above him, were convinced that the Zionist army could win the battle, which they labeled the “Defensive Wall.” As for the forces hostile to the Palestinian cause and their agents at the international, regional, Arab and Palestinian levels, they were planning to bring the era of Yasser Arafat to an end and bring in Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan and their partners. The American general, Keith Dayton, was assigned to restructure the Palestinian security services, their doctrine and approach, with the delusion that he could create a “new Palestinian” as he pleases with such a scheme!
The condition of the fedayeen, the resistance fighters, in the Jenin camp in 2002, led by the two commanders, Mahmoud Tawalbeh and Abu Jandal, is similar to the condition of the revolutionary Arab sheikh of the Palestinian revolution of 1936-39, the martyr Izz al-Din al-Qassam and his comrades, who fought in the village of Ya’bad in Jenin district until the last bullet. And since that battle, Jenin has taken his name, known as Jenin al-Qassam. At that time, as today, as today, the people of Jenin were waging a bitter battle, an open struggle against the invading Zionist colonizer. They were being pursued by the agents of a puppet dependent authority created by the British, giving them “headquarters,” labeling the “the peace factions” and installing their agents under the leadership of Pasha Fakhri al-Nashashibi.
Twenty years have passed since the battle of Jenin camp in 2002, and the camp has bit down on its wounds, its dreams and its sorrows, but the Palestinian revolution and its continuous intifada only wanes in order to rise again. The fire of the uprising continues to smolder and burn, slowly under the ashes, in the schools, in the Freedom Theatre, at the Abu Ali Mustafa Roundabout, through the prayers and the hymns in the mosques and churches of Jenin, and in the pictures and posters of the martyrs hanging on the walls, growing and raging, and then exploding. As for the policy of “burning the consciousness” that the enemy wanted to achieve as a continuous, eternal and daily state for the Palestinians of Jenin, it has today backfired upon that enemy with every shot, every explosion and every stubborn cry launched in the battle of Jenin camp of 2023, at the hands of those who were in their mothers’ laps in 2002, with some of them not even yet born.
In this context specifically, the saying of the martyr Ghassan Kanafani, resounds: “You think that the story has ended, and then it begins again.” And just as the story of Jenin 1936 and Jenin 2002 did not end, the story of Gaza did not end either, as the resistance remained, stubborn and sleepless, developing its abilities and experience despite the siege, aggression and wars, while the Palestinian West Bank was living in an unprecedented state of “calm” as it accumulated disappointments in an authority that called its subordination and treachery “security coordination.” The land is being chewed up throughout occupied Palestine from the river to the sea, and the wheel of settlement continues to turn, with every new colony built by enemy bulldozers. Thousands of Palestinian Arab homes are demolished, sometimes by the occupation’s “laws” and others by collective punishment, bombs and F-16 planes.
In the South of Lebanon, the resistance once again waged a major battle in 2006, in which it achieved the historic July victory, defeating the aggression and its objectives, and with it burying the “new Middle East” project that Condoleeza Rice had envisioned. And, once again, the popular cradle of the resistance paid a heavy price, in lives and blood, with all of the southern suburbs and half of the villages of the South.
In the same period, in Gaza, the Palestinian resistance waged a new battle, in an unprecedented manner of confrontation against the occupation’s proxy forces. The world did not respect the choice of the Palestinian popular masses that gave their vote to the Palestinian resistance in the game of elections under occupation in 2006, and we all know the rest of the story. It was followed by the so-called “coup” or the “military decision” that took place in the Gaza Strip in 2007. In fact, this was neither a coup nor a mere military decision, but rather an important new victory for the resistance in the face of the Zionist entity and the Dayton plan. And if the Palestinian resistance had remained confused and simply watched as the conspiracy against it played out in secret and in public, it would not have reached today what it has become, in terms of its strength and its armaments, that has become deeply frightening to the enemy entity and its backers.
This year, the 51st anniversary of the martyrdom of the writer and leader Ghassan Kanafani coincides with the victory of the Jenin camp in the seemingly impossible battle led by the youth of the Brigades, those who refuse sponsorship and control. The fedayeen “do not need their mother’s care,” Kanafani said.
The anniversary coincides with the resistance tent raised on a high southern hill in Lebanon, as a sign of victory, spreading awareness, light and challenge, and overlooking occupied Palestine. It is the resistance tent that heralds return and liberation. Here, precisely, the wisdom of the Palestinian woman of Kanafani’s novel, Umm Saad, appears once again with her revolutionary saying, “One tent is not like another.” Yes, the tent of forced refuge, torment and humiliation cannot be the same tent that shades the fedayeen, under which those who give their lives in the struggle meet, with no goal but the liberation of their land and their return, the defense of the rights and dignity of their people. The tent of resistance accommodates everyone, stretching from the South of Lebanon to the South of Palestine and beyond.
The memory of Kanafani’s martyrdom on July 8, 1972, when he died as a martyr in the Hazmieh neighbourhood of Beirut with his niece, Lamis Najm, 17 years of age, comes to say: Something great is being born now in the tunnels and tents of the valiant resistance in the south of Lebanon, in Gaza, and in Jenin, and there is a bridge and an embrace that extends between the south of Lebanon and all of Palestine: a small tent, from which the great Arab liberation project will be born, from the ocean to the Gulf.