Over 70,000 members and supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP] took to the streets of the Gaza Strip last Saturday [December 12] to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the movement.
The PFLP was founded on December 11 1967 by George Habash in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. From the beginning, Marxist socialism and Arab nationalism have been the guiding principles of the organisation, and they have stood as much opposed to the reactionary, pro-imperialist Arab regimes as to the zionist state that is occupying Palestine.
The PFLP is the second largest grouping within the Palestine Liberation Organisation, though the relationship between the two has often been strained, and the PFLP has always set about building links with leftist and resistance movements both inside and outside the PLO.
The PFLP has always rejected the two-state solution currently advocated by the PLO. In March, Marwan Fahoum of the PFLP’s Political Bureau clarified the position: “The PFLP sees the Arab-Zionist conflict as one that cannot be completed or ended with the establishment of the Palestinian state, but only with the establishment of a secular democracy on all of the land of historic Palestine, with equality for all its people.”
The crowds on Saturday converged on Palestine Stadium, the home of the national soccer team, where speeches were made by several leading members of the organisation.
Dr Rabah Muhanna, a member of the PFLP politburo and head of the Gaza branch made a call for escalated resistance to the zionist regime, and for recognition that: “the path of negotiations, from Oslo to Annapolis, has clearly reached a dead end, and there must be a declaration by all Palestinian forces of the final death of the path of so-called ‘negotiations’ and the immediate end of the so-called ‘transitional period’, including a complete end of all security coordination with the occupier.”
Al-Mazah Sammouni, who lost 29 members of her family in Israel’s criminal assault on Gaza last winter, also spoke, calling for Palestinian national unity, and for all forces, Fatah and Hamas in particular, to unite under the banner of “the blood of the martyrs and the promise of a better future for our people and children, and to fight to prosecute the occupation and its leaders in international courts for their crimes against our Palestinian people.”
The rally, chaired by Hani Al-Thawabteh and Shireen Abu-Oun of the PFLP's Gaza branch committee, was also addressed by Palestinian workers in Gaza who continue to suffer from the Israeli siege, as well as relatives of those PFLP members still held captive by the zionist regime.
There were also many messages of support for PFLP general secretary Ahmad Sa’adat. Sa’adat, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was attending a meeting with Palestinian Authority security officials on January 15, 2002, when they abducted him at the behest of the Israeli state and imprisoned him in the Muqata’a compound in Ramallah and later transferred him to Jericho.
In March 2006, with Sa’adat having been interned without charge or trial for over four yeas, the Israeli army laid siege to Jericho for 12 hours. In the siege, two Palestinian prisoners were killed and Sa’adat and five comrades were kidnapped and transferred to Israeli prisons.
Israel finally tried Sa’adat last summer and, on December 25 2008, sentenced him to 30 years imprisonment. He was convicted of membership of a prohibited organisation [the PFLP], holding a post in a prohibited organisation, and incitement, for a speech he gave following the Israeli assassination of his predecessor, Abu Ali Mustafa, in August 2001.
The campaign to release Ahmad Sa’adat formed a central part of the rally in Gaza. It was also an important issue in similar rallies organised by the PFLP in the West Bank and among Palestinian refugees in neighbouring Arab countries.
A rally commemorating the anniversary was also held in Havana, Cuba on Saturday. The event was attended by representatives of Palestinian support organisations in Cuba, as well as many Palestinian students currently studying there, dignitaries from several Latin American countries and representatives from further afield.
Basil Salim Ismail, representing the PFLP in Cuba, saluted the internationalist solidarity of the Cuban people towards the Palestinian people and their struggle, and called for the release of Ahmad Sa’adar, of the Miami 5, and “of all revolutionary prisoners in the Zionist and imperialist jails”.
The slogan under which the rally in Gaza was held, read defiantly: “Unity, Steadfastness and Resistance – Towards Victory!”
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