Spoons become a new symbol of Palestinian ‘freedom’
The humble spoon took its place alongside traditional flags and banners as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, after prisoners allegedly carried out one of Israel’s most spectacular prison escapes with the utensil.
When the six Palestinian activists escaped through a tunnel on September 6 from the Gilboa high security prison, social media shared footage of a tunnel at the base of a sink and a hole dug outside. .
A hashtag, “The Miraculous Spoon,” suggested how the Hollywood-style feat could have happened.
But whether the utensil had really been involved or if its role had been concocted was not clear at first.
On Wednesday, the lawyer for one of the fugitives recaptured since told AFP that his client, Mahmud Abdullah Ardah, said he used spoons, plates and even the handle of a kettle to dig the tunnel of his cell.
He began to make his way out of the institution in northern Israel in December, lawyer Roslan Mahajana said.
Ardah was one of four fugitives later arrested after the military sent troops to the occupied West Bank as part of a massive manhunt.
All six have been accused of plotting or carrying out attacks against Israelis.
Two men remain on the loose following this extremely rare escape. Israel has opened an investigation into the shortcomings that led to the embarrassing incident, which the Palestinians see as a “victory.”
“With determination, vigilance … and cunning, and with a spoon, it was possible to dig a tunnel through which the Palestinians escaped and the enemy was imprisoned,” writer Sari Orabi told the Arabi website 21.
Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Sabaaneh says the escape served as “black humor” and exposed Israel’s security system to ridicule.
He made several drawings featuring the utensil, including one entitled “The tunnel of freedom”.
– Memories –
The issue has also aroused admiration outside the Palestinian territories, where spoons have been carried during protests in support of prisoners held by Israel.
In Kuwait, artist Maitham Abdal sculpted a giant hand firmly clutching a spoon – the “spoon of freedom” as he calls it.
Likewise inspired, the Amman-based graphic designer Raed al-Qatnani symbolically represented six figures crossing a bridge to freedom, represented by a spoon.
For him, it also evokes the many hunger strikes undertaken by Palestinian prisoners to protest against their imprisonment.
In Tulkarm, a city in the West Bank occupied since 1967 by Israel, the escape brought back memories in Ghassan Mahdawi. He and another prisoner escaped an Israeli prison in 1996 through a tunnel dug using not kitchen utensils but nails.
He was arrested for belonging to an armed group during the first Palestinian intifada, which lasted until the early 1990s.
“There is nothing that prisoners cannot do (…) and there is still a loophole” in the system, said Mahdawi, who was arrested again and released after a total of 19 years in detention .
In his opinion, the more recent escapees may have used tools other than spoons, obtained inside the prison, to achieve what every prisoner dreams of, but few do.
“Getting out of an Israeli prison is something every inmate thinks about,” Mahdawi said.
Having it done with a spoon, he added, is something that “will go down in history.”
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