Tunisians to rally for Palestine amid calls to criminalise normalisation with Israel

Simultaneous gatherings planned in different parts of the country

epa09113864 People attend the 'Land Day' celebration for Palestine, organized by Islamist political party Ennahda in Tunis, Tunisia, 03 April 2021. Land Day is marked on 30 March by Arabs and Palestinians, marking the events of 30 March 1976 in Israel, when Palestinians declared a general strike and held large demonstrations against land expropriation by Israeli authorities in the Galilee. This day has been marked as the National Land Day, where Israel killed six Palestinians and injured and detained many others.  EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA
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Several Tunisian organisations and political parties, including the Tunisian General Workers Union UGTT, have called for a rally in the capital of Tunis on Thursday in support of Palestinians.

In a statement signed by 26 organisations and parties, Tunisians have been called to demonstrate “in support of the struggle of the Palestinian Arab people in their resistance to the crimes of the Zionist occupation and in the confrontation of international policies and biased positions towards the [Israeli] racist entity”.

“Tunisia expresses its complete and unconditional support for the Palestinian people … Its right to recover all of the land of Palestine and to establish their independent state,” the Tunisian presidency said on Sunday.

Tunisian president Kais Saied also reiterated his country’s unwavering support for Palestinians and “the legitimate right of the Palestinian resistance to stand up to occupation”.

Officials also called on the international community to assume its historical responsibility towards the atrocities that the Palestinian people have been subjected to for decades and the need to put an end to the breaching of Palestinians' rights.

The Tunisian official pro-Palestine stance comes in alignment with the general public sentiment.

Previous governments have maintained a position of support for a two-state solution along the 1967 borders.

Tunisia’s parliament is also moving towards criminalising any forms of normalisation or co-operation with Israel, even through unofficial channels.

The pro-Tunisian president Saied parliamentary bloc “Let the People Triumph,” officially submitted a bill on Tuesday which is set to be reviewed by Tunisian politicians.

“The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories does not only require criminalising normalisation but necessitates a liberation war where the enemy must be faced with non-recognition,” a statement by the political bloc read.

They also said that the shift in the official Tunisian stance must be translated on the ground with groundbreaking laws.

Tunisia’s pro-Palestinian stance stems from a long record of direct involvement in the dynamics of the struggle since its beginning.

Since 1948, many Tunisians have joined the ranks of different militant groups, namely mechanical engineer Mohamed Zouari, who developed the drone system for Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He was assassinated by Mossad in 2016 in his hometown of Sfax.

Seven years after his death, Radwan Zouari, brother of the late Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades engineer Mohamed Zouari told The National their family continue to uphold his brother’s stance towards the Palestinian cause.

“We have felt an immense sense of pride for what Mohamed Zouari’s science was able to provide for the Palestinian resistance and our people in Palestine,” Mr Zouari said.

The Israeli bombing of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s headquarters in Hammem Echott, Tunis in October 1985 aiming to assassinate the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and several members of the PLO leadership, also became a determining point of the country’s definitive stance towards Israel.

Dozens of Tunisians and Palestinians were killed in the attack and the UN Security Council condemned it and called on Israel to pay reparations for the human and material losses that Tunisians had to bear.

“What is happening in Gaza is not an unjustified attack but came after decades of Israeli aggression and more than 15 years of siege on Gaza,” Amal Hamrouni, a leader from the nationalist Attayar Achaabi party and one of the participants of Thursday's rally, told The National.

“Despite the differences between the different Tunisian political groups, one thing always gathered us and that is the Palestinian cause,” Ms Hamrouni added.

The political leader said that they are fully aware that Tunisia might have to face repercussions for its official pro-Palestinian stance amid a deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country.

“When we see the world’s double standards whilst dealing with the war in Ukraine versus Palestine, we recognise that the Tunisian people might have to pay for its bias,” Ms Hamrouni said.

“However, no loss could be compared to the shed of Palestinians’ blood,” she added.

Saturday’s surprise attack on Israel by Hamas has dramatically escalated tensions in the region and resulted in hundreds of deaths on both sides.

Updated: October 12, 2023, 5:28 AM