In a letter to mark the 10-year anniversary of the death of veteran leader Yasser Arafat, jailed Palestinian political figure Marwan Barghouthi urged Palestinian leadership to give its backing to “armed resistance” against Israel in a letter published Tuesday.
The call came after months of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in and around annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Even though Barghouthi has supported peaceful resistance throughout the years and denounced attacks against Israeli settlers, in Tuesday’s letter he encouraged Palestinians to adopt an “armed resistance.”
Barghouthi said that “choosing global and armed resistance” was being “faithful to Arafat’s legacy, to his ideas, and his principles for which tens of thousands died as martyrs.”
“It is imperative to reconsider our choice of resistance as a way of defeating the occupier,” he wrote.
Barghouthi, who Israeli authorities claim led the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005, wrote the letter from his cell in Israel’s Hadarim prison where he is serving five consecutive life sentences for alleged involvement in attacks on Israeli targets.
A senior figure within the Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, Barghouthi was arrested in 2002 and sentenced two years later.
He still wields huge influence from inside prison and is considered the only serious challenger to Abbas as president, with surveys regularly naming him as favorite to win elections should he be released from jail.
Barghouthi was thrown into solitary confinement by the Zionist occupation prison authorities after issuing the call to arms.
Meanwhile, hundreds of supporters of the Fatah movement gathered in al-Katiba square in Gaza City Tuesday, despite the movement’s decision to cancel the official festival commemorating the 10th anniversary of Arafat’s death.
Palestinians carried pictures of the iconic Palestinian leader, waved Fatah flags, and chanted slogans celebrating Arafat’s life.
Participant Mervat Abdel-Qader told Ma’an news agency that the memory of Arafat’s death is painful for Palestinians.
She said no one could prevent Palestinians from commemorating the death of the leader “who taught us that Palestinians are the decision makers.”
Fatah announced Sunday that the official anniversary ceremony would be canceled in the wake of bomb blasts on Friday that targeted Fatah members’ homes without causing injuries.
The ceremony would have been the first official commemoration of Arafat’s death allowed in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took power in 2007.
In his letter, Barghouthi commented on the circumstances of Arafat’s death, saying that his “assassination” was the result of “an official Israeli-American decision.”
Arafat died in a military hospital near Paris on November 11, 2004 in uncertain circumstances.
Two years ago, Swiss experts who examined his personal effects reported finding “abnormal” levels of polonium, an extremely radioactive toxin, fueling the widespread Palestinian belief that he was poisoned by Israel.
Israel, however, has repeatedly denied any role in Arafat’s death.
Source: Al-Akhbar English