Second episode of The Heroes: What is the 'Qassem Soleimani' room?
In the second episode of Al Mayadeen's documentary The Heroes, the stories of Gilboa’s prisoners and their lives inside and behind the bars are narrated. What are the Jenin Brigade and the secret of The Fifth Room?
On the right side of the prison yard is a cluster of cells, one of which will become the scene of a momentous event; cell number 5. That is what the Israeli occupation called one of the prison cells in Gilboa. However, the Palestinian prisoners had another name for the cell that later became an integral part of the history of the Palestinian struggle.
In the second episode of The Heroes, commander Mahmoud Al-Aridah tells Al Mayadeen the story of General Qassem Soleimani's room, the martyr of Al-Quds' room. It is the room of the hour in the story of Operation Freedom Tunnel. Strategic at heart, this naming was a message to the Israeli occupation.
That is what martyr General Qassem Soleimani's daughter confirmed when she found out what the prisoners decided to call the cell they were using to break from the Israeli occupation's chains and send a jolt of lightning through the occupation's so-called being. They decided to name the landmark cell after her martyred father.
She saw that this reflected the deep connection General Soleimani had with the Palestinian freedom fighters, prisoners, and people as a whole. It shows that General Qassem was a part of them, and he will forever be embedded in their memory, perceived as living among them. "These people who are dear to us see that martyr Soleimani has a hand in these operations."
Prisoner Mahmoud Al-Aridah, the man dissatisfied with the Israeli occupation's chains so much so he tried to break out from its unjust prisons several times, forcing the Israeli occupation to transfer him repeatedly throughout occupied Palestine until he ended up in Gilboa. Al-Aridah's stay in this prison, in particular, was set up as a challenge by the Israeli prison administration, as it thought that he could never leave its four reinforced walls.
However, commander Mahmoud planned with determination, and then he struck, executing a freedom operation the likes of which have never been seen by the occupation.
Prisoners succeeded as free people failed
There was a consensus on prisoner Zakaria Al-Zubaidi becoming a part of The Heroes. The consensus showed Palestinian unity, for Zakaria, as a fellow Palestinian from Jenin, The Heroes were quick to embrace him as one of their own, sending a message of great success from inside the walls of the Israeli occupations' prisons as those outside them failed to unite.
In the second episode of The Heroes, Al Mayadeen narrates prisoner Zakaria Al-Zubaidi's story and talks about him and his feats. Zakaria constitutes a certain kind of symbolism. Being the commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the Jenin refugee camp, Al-Zubaidi becoming a party to the operation and a part of the team was influential on the Palestinian public and freedom fighters.
Al-Zubaidi fought against the Israeli occupation forces several times and participated in several operations. He was behind a bombing in "Tel Aviv" in 2004, which sent the Israeli occupation rabidly searching for him for long stretches of time. His home was raided numerous times, which prevented him from seeing his family all at once. He has not since 1988 seen all of his brothers together, as at least one person would be in prison at any point.
Ayham Kamamji: The poet freedom fighter
"In 2003, he went on a mission in a booby-trapped car. He got unlucky. The car malfunctioned, and he has been wanted ever since," said Fouad Kamamji, prisoner Ayham's father.
Ayham has two bachelor's degrees from Al-Aqsa University in Gaza and the Open University in Al-Quds, as well as a master's degree from the University of Cairo. During his detention, he was known to have always been occupied with teaching young prisoners.
"Kamaji is a kind-hearted man. If you are ever in trouble, he will help you. He solves problems in prison and helps the men in there to read and write," people close to Ayham Kamamji said in episode two of The Heroes.
Kamaji killed an illegal Israeli settler in Ramallah, or so is reported. But in reality, he was not any settler; he was an officer in the Israeli occupation's airforce. Additionally, Kamamji was supposed to stand trial at the hands of the Palestinian Authority, but the Israeli occupation tricked him and arrested him while on trial.
In Gilboa, during his public trial following Operation Freedom Tunnel, Kamamji was the sound voice of reason, speaking eloquently and bravely about his roots in the resistance.
Munadel Nafi'at: A man of many feats
Mahmoud Al-Aridah told Al Mayadeen that back in 2018, he met Munadel Nafi'at, who was arrested and released several times before ending up in Gilboa and choosing to become a member of the team.
The Israeli occupation executed its revenge on Nafi'at's family, arresting his brother Qaisar directly after arresting him. Qaisar is currently in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, his brother Majdou was sentenced to 22 months in prison a few months back, and he is not deprive of visitations.
He was arrested for the first time before he was liberated through the Loyalty of the Free prison swap deal on December 18, 2011, between the Israeli and Palestinian sides. It saw 1,400 Palestinian prisoners liberated from the Israeli occupation's prisons. Ever since, he got arrested back to back.
Nafi'at spent around seven years in the Israeli occupation's prisons, including through administrative detention. He was also arrested for being a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Who is Mahmoud Chreim?
The laborers; that is what Mahmoud Al-Aridah calls him. They had a major role in digging the tunnel and executing Operation Freedom Tunnel. Munadel Nafi'at, Mohammad Al-Aridah, Mahmoud Chreim, and Mohammad Abu Bakr. They were hardworking laborers.
During the same month as Operation Freedom Tunnel, Mahmoud Chreim was supposed to get out of prison. However, he chose to stay and be part of the operation, which landed him an additional four years in prison.
Mahmoud Chreim's brother, Youssef, describes him as a "calm person who loved to fight and resist for the liberation of liberating Al-Aqsa mosque. He is a great person who did not care for any harm that he would endure for carrying out this operation, even if it meant that he would have to stand trial and face a longer sentence. All he cared about was these six prisoners facing a life sentence and contributing to their liberation. That is all he cared about."
A hero that cut through the Israeli occupation's prison bars is how Mahmoud Al-Aridah described him. That is Chreim, alongside Qusai Merhi, who was arrested before finishing his studies and was also sentenced to four more years in prison for helping The Heroes.
Liberated prisoner Mohammad Jaradat talks in the second episode of The Heroes about Jenin. Why Jenin? Why are all the prisoners who participated in the operation from Jenin?
"These questions underline that there is a connection between the tunnel and these brothers' plan to reach Jenin refugee camp, as well as some of them making it there, not to mention the inclination toward resistance in the Jenin refugee camp. That is a sentiment that is still present until now, even if it was between two tides, it is still a thorn in the side of the Israeli occupation's security," Jaradat underlined.
"Everyone is talking about Jenin today as the city spearheading the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank. Nablus, despite all its greatness and might, and despite being the most populated area in the West Bank, has lost its standing to [Jenin]. Martyr Ibrahim Nabulsi's mother is from Jenin, and Jenin's residents dealt with his martyrdom as if it occurred there. Therefore, the Jenin Brigade is a prime example of Palestinian resistance that can be used as a model for resisting the occupation on the level of the Palestinian cause, and this is what everyone is closely following," he added.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziyad Al-Nakhalah called the Jenin Brigade the "Tunnel Brigade" so that Operation Freedom Tunnel remains a symbol of resistance in the occupied West Bank.
The digging began. Those who should know found out, as other inmates believed that the whole operation was just to find a safe place for them to stash their phones, and they went out for recess as some of the heroes went to the cell where the whole thing took place. This is the beginning of the operation.
To know more details about Operation Freedom Tunnel, watch the upcoming episodes of The Heroes on Al Mayadeen at 21:00 Al-Quds time.