- Created: Friday, 01 September 2017 17:01
- Written by Louis Brehony
2017 marks 45 years since the murder of Palestinian writer, activist and political leader Ghassan Kanafani by the Israeli Mossad agency. On 8 July 1972, while living in Beirut, a car bomb explosion killed him along with his 17-year-old niece Lamees. Kanafani was one of the most important figures in 20th century literature. He was also a refugee, a revolutionary Marxist and an internationalist. The Israelis claimed the assassination was a response to the Lod Airport attack two months earlier, although Kanafani had played no direct role in this. He was, according to the obituary in the Lebanese Daily Star, 'a commando who never fired a gun, whose weapon was a ball-point pen, and his arena the newspaper pages.' Kanafani was at the time of his death the official spokesman of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the editor of its paper Al Hadaf. The organisation saluted 'the leader, the writer, the strategist, and the visionary.'
Ghassan Kanafani spent the early years of his life in the port city of Acre, where he was born in 1936. At the time of his birth, Kanafani’s father and other family members were participants in the national revolt against the British occupation of Palestine and its facilitation of Zionist colonisation. Acre was the site of a British occupation jail and of the executions of leading Palestinian activists. The epic song ‘From Acre Prison’ (Min Sijjn Akka) protests against their killing and remains an anthem of the Palestinian struggle. Prior to 1948, Acre had around 15,000 Palestinian inhabitants and no Zionist settlements. The Zionist attacks in the Nakba led to the expulsion of all but 3,000 Palestinians. 12-year-old Ghassan and his family became refugees in the town of Zabadiya, central west Syria, joining the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians exiled from their homelands.