Sixth episode of The Heroes: Their stories as sent to Al Mayadeen
In the Sixth episode of "The Heroes", Al Mayadeen reveals details from the original messages as sent by the prisoners and relays messages of Arab and International freedom fighters to the heroes of the freedom tunnel operation.
If you missed the previous episode, click here.
ِAl Mayadeen did not disclose everything in order to protect the prisoners from the occupation's retaliatory measures. However, the prisoners have trusted Al Mayadeen with many details about Operation Freedom Tunnel that, up until now, were kept secret, and to uphold their will to have their story told, we bring you "The Heroes" to tell their stories as we received them.
In the previous five episodes of "The Heroes", Al Mayadeen revealed many details about Operation Freedom Tunnel, starting from the conception of the idea to its execution, and finally, its success. Al Mayadeen brings to you the full story as directly narrated by the prisoners themselves and the 5 other captives who had helped them.
In this sixth and final episode, Al Mayadeen presents messages received from prisoners Mohammad Al-Aridah, Zakaria Al-Zubaidi, Yaqoub Qadri, and Ayham Kamamji, during which they revealed other aspects and details of the story, while also sharing some comments made by Arab and international influential individuals on this operation.
"We are extremely proud of you."— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) October 4, 2022
The parents, sisters, brothers, and attorneys of the #Palestinians who managed to break out from Gilboa prison send them their heartfelt messages through #AlMayadeen.
Watch the last episode of 'The Heroes': https://t.co/XEhnrqZIx6#الأبطال pic.twitter.com/qnwtECLYce
Al-Zubaidi shares a new side of the story:
When I looked at the Gilboa Mountains and behind me lay the prison encircled in darkness, I felt overwhelmed with joy. I just wanted to run into the vast space of freedom. After passing through the cotton field, I saw a plane heading towards the prison, I informed the others [prisoners] that we were caught. While we tried to proceed, Yaqoub stumbled and fell and asked us to leave him and continue our way. I refused and carried him on my shoulder.
We arrived at the designated village, but to our disappointment, our ride did not. So we decided to divide into groups and part ways.
Mohammad and I were together when the Israeli inspection unit was approaching our location, so we hid under an oak tree where I noticed a snake nest, and told Mohammad that we were safe there.
Between the mountains and the plains, Zakaria Al-Zubaidi and Muhammad Al-Aridah had a taste of freedom, a path that Mohammad writes about in his letters
We decided to head to the village of Tamra. I started running in the cotton fields to explore the way, and when we made it a little further, I started praising God at the top of my lungs.
Later on in our journey, Zakaria and I reached an area that we later discovered to have been an occupation army camp. There were cows grazing around. We decided to hide in the shade of a tree, where we coincidentally came across snake skin.
We headed toward a village that we later found out to have been Tamra. We chose to continue uphill on the mountain, where we found an olive tree and decided to lay low next to it until we could move freely. To our surprise, there were onions and two stale "Manakish", so we soaked them in some water and ate them.
We also found some Arabic coffee and an abandoned kettle, which we used to brew ourselves some coffee on firewood. The pleasure was unparalleled. We were both there blowing on the fire from either side to start the fire.
As for Kamamji's letters, they focus on what happened to him and Nafi'at after the heroes parted into groups
We ran out of water. We were so thirsty that our vision became blurry. I spotted several gallons of water next to small olive trees, so I told Munadel to look at God's mercy. However, after finding out that the gallons were empty, Munadel jokingly said: "Rather look at God's wrath. Surely this is because of Mahmoud's bad deeds," and we laughed.
We headed West, and I was relying on the stars to figure out the path. We headed to the plain of Marj Ibn Amer, but the path across was very bumpy, so I was encouraging myself by remembering that I would see Jenin, breathe in its fresh air, and drink from its water. As we walked through the area, we came across a field of watermelons behind a factory and decided to have some to eat, and after we were done, we buried the leftovers in the dirt to hide our tracks.
We wanted to head to Afula-Tabariya street. Every time I looked over at the light emanating from Jenin, I would say to myself: hurry up, Ayham. You will soon visit your mother's grave, hug your father and brothers, drink from the water of your town, and smell its scents.
As we were wandering around the Marj Ibn Amer plain, we entered a huge field covered with mint and basil. I was astonished by the breathtaking view.
As time passed by, and we reached a three-lane road, we waited for an opportunity to cross. Immediately after crossing the road, I walked a small distance from the road, ducked down, and signaled Munadel to immediately do the same, as I saw a police patrol coming our way. The police car parked and an officer stepped out with a flashlight in his hand, turning it on and off (signaling), so we quickly ran away.
As Munadel headed toward the plains, I went to the left and managed to arrive at the western side of Jenin, where I asked for help from some people to get me to the village of Kafr Dan.
I can't describe how I felt when I took the first sip of my beloved hometown's water after 15 years in captivity. I was able to reach Jenin camp and enter its homes that took me in, sheltered me, and protected me, and here I can only mention one of these people.
I am tearing up as I talk about him, because he had passed away. He is the beloved martyr, Daoud Al-Zubaidi (brother of Zakaria Al-Zubaidi), who sacrificed himself for his religion and for Palestine, which is not strange given he comes from a family that has sacrificed a father, mother, and son. I am certain that Munadel feels the same way about the beloved martyr, brother Abdullah Al-Husri, who spared no effort to help him.
On the third day, I met with Munadel again. The meeting was one of the most beautiful meetings: two liberated prisoners congratulated each other on this great honor and remained together until their arrest.
I was personally faced with two options, either return to a slow death in prison or martyrdom. However, the second option would harm the people who sheltered us, especially my friend, Ihab Salmah, who sacrificed his life of freedom and chose to pick us up in his car and help us find shelter.
I decided to turn myself in... After all, should we reward the people of this house that sheltered us by causing their house to be demolished over their heads? Secondly, our brothers in Gaza threatened to go to war if we were killed. Is this how we reward those who want to preserve our lives by being the reason why a hundred more lives have perished?
I then called my father to inform him of my decision to turn myself in so as not to cause any trouble, and then we came down and were arrested.
Ayham and Munadel could have stayed in the camp, under the protection of Jenin and its great people, and the protection of the Jenin Brigades. Ayham and Munadel could have been martyred, but the Palestinian cause is not about personal gain. It is about the public and the community of Jenin as a whole.
Ayham and Munadel knew that they were heading toward captivity again, or martyrdom, after leaving Jenin camp. Nonetheless, they chose to leave in order to preserve the people's blood and protect the camp. There was no selfishness here; they were selfless, prioritized others, and put everyone else above themselves.
Al-Qadri recalls the liberation operation from his solitary confinement cell in Askalan prison
At half past twelve o'clock at night, we packed our bags, and Munadel, Mohammad, and I walked through the tunnel and out its opening. What a great moment it was when I stuck my head out and Munadel gave me his hand to help me out of the tunnel. I then picked up my bag and walked away about twenty meters. Those were defining moments. I even took a bit of dark red dirt and chewed it in my mouth to tell the enemy that nothing stands between those seeking liberation and their goal.
We headed toward the north of Palestine and climbed the high Na'ura Mountains. I had a small radio with me, and Mahmoud had one, too. As we heard the news of the Israeli shock following the operation, we were very pleased. We slept that night near one of the Zionist military camps, then we kept going. We moved along, and we came across a large herd of cows. Mahmoud affectionately told the friendly animals that we wouldn't hurt them, we were just passing through there in peace. I laughed as I told him that the cows were Palestinian, so there was no need for worrying.
We ate very delicious fruits from the fields that decorated our path, figs, lemons, pomegranates, and cactus fruits.
Sayyed Safieddine: we were ready to receive the prisoners in Lebanon
When these heroes managed to get out, there were discussions about them leaving occupied Palestine through its northern borders to Lebanon or Jordan.
"On the psychological level, we were fully prepared for the possibility that the prisoners or some of them would head to Lebanon. These were our wishes, although we knew that there are many complexes, and overcoming them requires an extraordinary effort. We wished that southern Lebanon would extend into Palestine to take the hands of these dear brothers to get them among us. This is, of course, our wish," the Chairman of the Executive Council of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hachem Saffieddine, told Al Mayadeen.
"As you know, the issue of prisoners inside Israeli prisons has always been a top priority for the Resistance, as can be seen in the history of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon and Hezbollah, and we are people of principle, and 'we do not leave our prisoners in prisons' is not a mere slogan," he added.
"This particular operation was a clear and prominent blow to the Israeli security system. In fact, security work requires expertise, knowledge, capabilities, history, and experience. What happened in Gilboa proved that these heroes are masters of innovation and that their spiritual abilities and intellectual capabilities exceeded everything that the Israeli enemy could imagine. They caught it off guard," Sayyed Safieddine stressed.
From Resistance leaders and International fighters to heroes of the freedom tunnel
Holding on to the land and right, feeling anger, and striving for liberation; many commonalities unite the Palestinians with the international freedom fighters. With every victory they achieve, they deal a new blow to the forces of domination, occupation, and colonialism. It is in this context that Operation Freedom Tunnel falls - a blow to the Israeli security establishment and a victory for all freedom fighters in all fields around the world.
Some of these freedom fighters sent messages through Al Mayadeen to the Heroes of Operation Freedom Tunnel, expressing their happiness and pride in them.
Zeinab Soleimani: we will always strive for the freedom of these prisoners
"If Martyr Soleimani had been present himself, he would certainly have appreciated this highly impressive work, and he would certainly have been looking for a way to strengthen and encourage such steps, and to be able to carry out similar operations with such motivation, with such steadfastness and perseverance, with such courage and intelligence," the daughter of Martyr Qassem Soleimani, Zeinab Soleimani, said to Al Mayadeen.
"The impact of this process was so profound that we believed in the fact that in the midst of darkness, in the midst of problems and difficulties, a small and profound step can renew our morale and establish a new equation," she noted.
"I send my greetings to these dear people and declare to them that your brothers and sisters in the Islamic Republic of Iran will always strive for your freedom, dear beloved, and we will stand by you with the same will, with the same hope, and with all incentives," she added.
Martyr Qassem #Soleimani's daughter, Zeinab Soleimani, shares how the #Iranian people felt when the news broke out about the self-liberation of the 6 #Palestinian prisoners.— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) October 5, 2022
Watch the full episode:https://t.co/XEhnrqI7Fy pic.twitter.com/xfmMNDXJfy
Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi: The Heroes' operation is a message to the enemy that its fate is to collapse
For his part, Yemeni Supreme Political Council of Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi said the operation carried out by the heroes was "a message to the enemy before anyone else; that everything it builds and does is destined to collapse just as those prison cells were destroyed, and these heroes were able to break out of them".
Aleida Che Guevara: I would like to be near the prisoners
International activist and daughter of Argentine revolutionary Leader Che Guevara, Aleida Guevara March, stressed that she felt a lot of joy and was really affected by the operation. "What the prisoners did confirms that we could defeat our enemy, and shattering the enemy's image is possible even if we were in captivity," she said.
Aleida Guevara, the daughter of the revolutionary #CheGuevara, describes the courage of #Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails as unbeatable and their spirit as invincible. #Palestine #الأبطال pic.twitter.com/zKN6fyiqKO— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) October 4, 2022
Addressing the prisoners, Guevara said, "I would like to be near them now. I am a doctor, and I can put myself at their service with all the love in this world. What I want most is to be near them now, and to take care of them, as they deserve."
"I am absolutely confident that the torture and criminality of the Zionists cannot undermine the spirit of sacrifice that inhabits each of them... It is the spirit of strength, courage, and moral rectitude that they are distinguished by," she added.
Sabahi: Operation Freedom Tunnel was like an untimely Dawn
"What the heroes of the freedom tunnel did was like an untimely dawn that shone on our hearts and filled our souls with a sense of certainty, for it proved that some of us were able to experience freedom when it was nearly impossible to do so," Arab National Congress Secretary-General Hamdeen Sabahi said.
"It is the duty of everyone who stands with the Palestinian people, rights, and Resistance to support the steadfastness of our prisoners and demand their right to liberation as much as he demands the right of all Palestine to be liberated from its river to its sea," Sabahi stressed.
Bouthaina Shaaban: what happened created a disturbance in the minds of Israelis
"The miracle that happened undoubtedly created turbulence in the minds of the Israelis and in the plans they are promoting and proved that the 'the invincible enemy' title is an unfounded one manufactured by the Israeli enemy and that this enemy is being vanquished," the special adviser to the Syrian presidency, Buthaina Shaaban, said.
"I salute the mothers of the Resistance fighters and prisoners. I salute their fathers and their families, and I thank them. You are the true bearers of the cause and the truth, and you are the ones who will be victorious, God willing. And we will be victorious with you," she added.
Zwelivelile Mandela: Freedom during our lifetime is coming, it is absolute
Nelson Mandela's grandson describes the Freedom Tunnel Operation as inspirational and the six prisoners as heroes.— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) October 5, 2022
For the full episode: https://t.co/XEhnrqZIx6 #الأبطال @nkoszwelivelile pic.twitter.com/jrU34GSlfl
Nelson Mandela's grandson, Zwelivelile Mandela, assured his comrades and brothers-in-arms that "freedom in our age is inevitable, and as President Mandela once said, 'It always seems impossible until it's done'."
"Therefore, today we would like to send a clear message of solidarity to all family members of the righteous prisoners and political prisoners: do not lose hope, and do not despair. Our struggle for a free Palestine is a righteous struggle, and we will win," he added.
Nelson Mandela's grandson describes how hope was instilled in the rights activists of #SouthAfrica when they heard about the 6 #Palestinian prisoners who broke out of Gilboa prison.— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) October 5, 2022
For the full episode: https://t.co/XEhnrqZIx6 #الأبطال @nkoszwelivelile pic.twitter.com/g6zGXFQ64h
Tushar Gandhi to POWs: you are superhumans
"You are superhumans, and you should not allow any circumstances, no matter how great, to crush your spirit, to defeat what enabled you to create this miracle. Never give up this spirit," Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Tushar Gandhi said.
"After the miracle they achieved themselves last year, the prisoners have become living symbols, and time will not erase that. Therefore, they should be proud of this and rely on what they have achieved as a source to draw strength and determination from to prepare for other struggles and battles," he added.
"They are prisoners of their conscious."— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) October 5, 2022
Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, Tushar Gandhi, describes the six #Palestinian prisoners who broke out of Gilboa prison.
Watch the full episode here: https://t.co/XEhnrqI7Fy#الأبطال @TusharG pic.twitter.com/rTndG0onbs
René González: We have full confidence that they will achieve victory
"We have full confidence that they will achieve victory, because they believe in this victory, and victory is the right of those who resist. And they resist," Cuban activist and Liberated prisoner Rene Gonzalez said.