"They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn't want to be broken." Bobby Sands
The following statement from Samer Issawi*, who has spent 240 days on hunger strike, was posted on his Facebook page by his lawyer Fawwaz Shloudy. (NB: I've taken the liberty of polishing the initial English translation by Shahd Abusalama):
"With regard to Israel's offer to deport me to Gaza, let me say this: While Gaza is undeniably part of my Palestinian homeland, I alone will decide whether and when I go there, just as I alone will decide whether and when I will go to any other part of Palestine, from the river to the sea, as is my right.
"I emphatically refuse to be deported to Gaza as this will simply bring back bitter memories of the expulsions of 1948 and 1967. We are fighting to liberate our occupied homeland, and for the right of return of our refugees, whether they be in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip or in exile, not to add to their numbers with deportees. Israel's systematic emptying of Palestine of its people and replacing them with strangers is a crime. Therefore, I refuse to be deported, and will only agree to being released in Jerusalem since I know that Israel wants to empty Jerusalem of its Arab people and turn us into a minority there. My decision is not a personal one but is based on a national principle: If every detainee succumbs to pressure to agree to be deported outside Jerusalem, Jerusalem will eventually be emptied of its people.
"I'd rather die in my hospital bed than be deported from Jerusalem. It is my life and my soul. Uprooting me from there would be like tearing my soul from my body. Away from Jerusalem, my life has no meaning. I am locked in its embrace. I say to my fellow Palestinians: embrace your cities, towns and villages, and never give in to Israel's wishes under any circumstances. This is not about Samer Issawi. It is a national issue, a principle, a conviction that every Palestinian who truly loves his homeland should hold. Finally, and for the thousandth time, I will continue my hunger strike until I am either a free man in Jerusalem or I die a martyr." (palsolidarity.org, 19/3/13)
[*See my earlier posts on Samer Issawi: Another First for Israel's Cutting Edge Thuggery (12/1/13); Prisoner X: The Really Big Picture (19/2/13).]