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Ceasefire holds as Palestinian resistance demands release of political prisoners

PALESTINIAN prisoners remain at the heart of the resistance, solidarity organisations said today, as they called for action to secure the freedom of those behind bars.

Leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group Ziad Nakhaleh announced a ceasefire late on Sunday, bringing a pause to Israel’s bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip. 

Operation Dawn was said to be targeting the resistance group, but at least 15 children were among those killed in indiscriminate air strikes by Tel Aviv. 

Israel continued to pummel Gaza soon after the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect, however it remained intact when the Morning Star published this story. 

Mr Nakhaleh said that the agreement was contingent on the release of hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoner Khalil Awawdeh, who is said to be seriously weakened after 150 days without food. 

Islamic Jihad has also demanded the release of leading cadre Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi with an Egyptian guarantee.

No conditions were to be imposed on the Palestinian resistance, Mr Nakhaleh said. 

“If the occupation violates these conditions, the resistance will not hesitate to return to the battle by all means to liberate these imprisoned Palestinian strugglers,” he said.

“The Palestinian resistance, taking up arms, taking to the streets, rising up by all forms, defends and protects Palestinian life, from the massacres of the occupation warplanes and the violent raids of mass arrest and political incarceration.”

Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab claimed that Mr Awawdeh was to be transferred to a hospital and was confident of Mr Saadi’s release after the visit of a United Nations delegation to the prison. 

But Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev insisted that no Palestinian prisoners were to be freed as the UN delegation arrived to asses the security situation in Gaza, casting doubt over the ceasefire agreement. 

Tel Aviv said that it was open to discussions but denied today that the release was part of the Gaza deal. 

“Israel did not agree to the release of either of the two detainees that the Egyptians mentioned. The Egyptians requested, and we will facilitate a dialogue on this matter. They wanted to know about their situation, to see that everything is OK,” a senior official said. 

The Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network called for an escalation in global solidarity actions to secure the pair’s freedom and the 4,700 that remain in Israeli jails. 

“Palestinian prisoners are at the heart of the liberation struggle,” the group said, urging supporters to take to the streets and support for an international boycott of Israel. 

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