BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority's Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs announced Monday that a new anthem has been composed in support of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, which will be sung by the celebrated Lebanese singer Assi Helani.
According to state-run Palestinian news agency Wafa, the anthem was created to honor Karim Younis, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner who has been held in Israeli custody for 34 years.
Younis, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Palestinian town of Arara in Israel, was sentenced in 1983 to life in Israeli prison for allegedly carrying out an attack on an Israeli soldier in the occupied Golan Heights as part of the Fatah resistance movement in 1980.
While Younis is one of some 20 imprisoned Palestinian citizens of Israel who were expected to be released as part of the Oslo peace accords in the 1990s, Israeli authorities have yet to release them.
The anthem honoring Younis and Palestinian prisoners will be sung by the celebrated Lebanese singer Assi Helani, and was written by Rami al-Yousif.
A news conference, attended by Helani, was held in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Tuesday to launch the anthem.
It was also attended by head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe, President of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society Qaddura Faris, head of the Palestinian Football Federation and the Palestinian Olympic Committee Jibril Rajoub, and General Director of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation Ahmad Assaf, among other Palestinian officials.
Qaraqe said during the news conference that art and songs are an important aspect of showing support for Palestinian prisoners. “It’s part of Palestinian efforts to tell the world about the just cause of Palestinian prisoners,” he said.
Representing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Rajoub handed Helani a Palestinian passport in a show of appreciation for his collaboration on the anthem.
Helani said that he felt proud to be granted a Palestinian passport. “The passport is a badge of honor and a gift from the Palestinian people,” he said.
Helani said that the anthem was represented an “expression of loyalty to all Palestinian prisoners, both men and women, in the prisons of the Israeli occupation."
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israel's prisons as of January, 70 of whom hold Israeli citizenship.