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A mixture of feelings as prisoners near freedom

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A very confusing feeling passes through me after hearing about the exchange of 1,027 Palestinian detainees for the only Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who is held captive by the Palestinian resistance. I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad. Gazing at the faces of the prisoners’ families in the solidarity tent, I see a look that I have never seen before: Eyes glitter with hope. These people have attended every event in solidarity with our detainees, have never given up hope that their freedom is inevitable someday, and have stayed strong during their loved ones’ absence inside Israeli cells. Thinking about those women whose relatives are most likely to be released and seeing their big smiles makes me happy. But at the same time, thinking about the other 5,000 detainees who will steadfastly go on with their resistance in the prisons makes my heart break for them.

When I arrived at the tent today, the wife of the prisoner Nafez Herz, who was sentenced to life-long imprisonment and has been jailed for 26 years, shook hands with me and said very excitedly that she had heard that her husband would be freed. Then she said, “But you can’t imagine how much my heart aches for those families whose prisoner will not be released in this exchange deal. All prisoners’ families have become like one big family. We meet weekly, if not daily in the Red Cross, we share our torments, and we understand each other’s suffering.” I grabbed her hands and pressed them while saying, “We will never forget them, and God willing, they will gain their freedom soon.”

While I was writing this article among the crowd of people inside the Red Cross, I suddenly heard people chanting and clapping and could see a woman jumping with joy. While on the phone, she said loudly, “My husband is going to be free!” Her husband is Abu Thaer Ghneem, who received a life sentence and spent 22 years in prison. As I watched people celebrating and singing for the freedom of the Palestinian detainees, I met his only son, Thaer. He was hugging his mother tight while giving prayers to God showing their thankfulness. I touch his shoulder, attempting to get his attention. “Congratulations! How do you feel?” I asked him. “I was only one day old when my father was arrested, and now I am 22 years old. I’ve always known that I had a father in prison, but never had him around. Now my father is finally going to be set free and fill his place, which has been empty over the course of 22 years of my life.” His answer was very touching and left me shocked and admiring. While he was talking to me, I sensed how he couldn’t find words to describe his happiness at his father’s freedom.

The celebration continued for an hour. Then I return to my former confusion, feeling drowned in a stream of thoughts. 1,027 detainees’ families will celebrate the freedom of their relatives, but what about the fate of the rest of the prisoners?

I heard lots of information since last night concerning the names of the soon-to-be-released prisoners, but it was hard to find two sources sharing the same news, especially about Ahmad Sa’adat and Marwan Al-Barghouti and whether they are involved in the exchange deal. I’ve always felt spiritually connected to them, especially Sa’adat, as he is my father’s friend. I can’t handle thinking that he may not be involved in this exchange deal. He has had enough merciless torment inside Israeli solitary confinement for over two and a half years.

Let’s not forget those who are still inside the Israeli occupation’s prisons and who are still hunger striking, as this hunger strike wasn’t held for an exchange deal, but for the Israeli Prison Service to meet the prisoners’ demands. The number of Palestinian people who are joining the hunger strike in Gaza City is increasing, including the prisoners’ families. We have to speak up out loudly and tell the world that this hunger strike will end in only one case: once Israel addresses our living martyrs’ demands. We will never stop singing for the freedom of Palestinian detainees until the Israeli prisons are hopefully someday emptied.

Shahd Abusalama lives in Gaza and blogs at Palestine From My Eyes.

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52 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen on October 13, 2011, 9:35 am

    Was this the same prisoner exchange HAMAS offered a while back?

    • annie
      annie on October 13, 2011, 10:06 am

      i think so citizen although we have not been privy to the details. it is my understanding under the deal some prisoners are being released to turkey. others to gaza and many from the WB will not be allowed to return there. so it is likely hamas made many concessions.

    • Samuel
      Samuel on October 13, 2011, 11:38 am

      It’ similar numberwise to the Hamas offer of while back, but Israel conceded in releasing those with “blood on their hands” and to allow some of the prisoners to return to the WB. Hamas conceded in not releasing all the “big fish” such as Barghouti and Sa’adat, and not insisting on all prisoners to return to their homes.

      • Walid
        Walid on October 13, 2011, 12:02 pm

        Samuel, your use of the dramatic Israeli bullshit words “blood on their hands” is nauseating. If applied to Israel, hundreds of thousands of Israelis wouldn’t have it just on their hands but they’d be drowning in the blood of Palestinians they killed, so spare me the Biblical jargon.

      • Samuel
        Samuel on October 13, 2011, 12:21 pm

        Although Biblical in origin, the expression “blood on the hands” entered the English language thanks to Shakespeare in “Macbeth”, and shouldn’t nauseate. It simply distinguishes those who actually murdered people from others who didn’t.
        Maybe you are nauseated as you don’t like to consider murderers as being connected with blood as it dirties the non-violence myth of Palestinian resistance?

      • Walid
        Walid on October 13, 2011, 1:21 pm

        Samuel, if you want to call it “murder”, it’s your business. The nauseating part is the biblical reference. I’m sure that when Israelis use the “blood on hands” label, they don’t have Macbeth in mind and they are just trying to project a gory depiction of Palestinians with Israeli blood dripping from their hands. Know of any other people that use it in discussing murder?

        To clear up a point, I consider legitimate Israeli targets only military ones. Paletinians in jail for having bombed busses or pizzerias full of civilians should not be released. Do you share my feelings when Israelis are involved in the killing of civilians; or is there no such thing as civilians as far as Palestinians are concerned as Palestinians are all terrorists and therefore legitimate targets?

      • Samuel
        Samuel on October 14, 2011, 11:08 am

        Walid – I agree with you 100% when you say: “I consider legitimate Israeli targets only military ones. Palestinians in jail for having bombed busses or pizzerias full of civilians should not be released”
        I also share your feeling that Israel should not target civilians, and that of course not all Palestinians are terrorists.

        When Israel uses the expression “blood on their hands” it mostly refers to terrorists who killed civilians, and in fact the vast majority of Israeli deaths as a result of Palestinian terrorism are civilian, and thus you condemn this as well.

  2. annie
    annie on October 13, 2011, 10:10 am

    all political prisoners should be set free.

    • Walid
      Walid on October 13, 2011, 10:52 am

      It was rumoured from the start of negotiations that Hamas was being coached by Hizbullah since it’s experienced in dealing with Israel. Hamas would have been happy with 20 or 30 prisoners, but when you see numbers like 1,027:1, there has to be something of Hizbullah in it. One of the chief Hamas exchange negotiators is posted in Beirut.

      • Walid
        Walid on October 13, 2011, 11:31 am

        From Debka and Manar, a promise by the Hamas:

        “However, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, who signed the exchange deal, vowed to continue efforts to kidnap Israeli soldiers to obtain the release of more prisoners. The Shalit abduction was not the last, he said: “We got 1,027 out of jail and we’ll recover the remaining 8,000 too.”

      • DBG
        DBG on October 13, 2011, 11:47 am

        When people see this they think, is 1 Israeli life worth 1027 Palestinians lives in the eyes of their leadership? is this why when there is conflict deaths and injuries between the waring parties are so skewed?

      • es1982
        es1982 on October 13, 2011, 12:02 pm

        Believe me, DBG, the Israeli leadership would be happy to do a 1:1 (or even 1:100) prisoner exchange. It’s the Hamas that demanded so many prisoners.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka on October 13, 2011, 12:05 pm

        “When people see this they think, is 1 Israeli life worth 1027 Palestinians lives in the eyes of their leadership?”

        Nope. They think, “Damn, Israelis sure suck at negotiations.”

      • Donald
        Donald on October 13, 2011, 1:19 pm

        Only a very stupid person would think that, DBG, so I wondered when one of the pro-Israel types would trot that argument out. Jerry Haber talked about the sheer idiocy of it at his blog. It really doesn’t make any sense–by your logic, the Palestinians should have insisted that the Israelis only release one Palestinian prisoner in order to demonstrate that an Israeli is equal to a Palestinian. Maybe in the Monty Pythonesque world of Israeli hasbara, but not in reality.

      • annie
        annie on October 14, 2011, 8:08 pm

        i don’t find debka to be an impartial source. unless Debka and Manar is different.

        when you see numbers like 1,027:1, there has to be something of Hizbullah in it.

        hmm. not sure how that works

      • Walid
        Walid on October 14, 2011, 10:24 pm

        Annie, both Debka and Manar reported on Meshaal’s promise to Israel that more IDF would be captured until all Palestinians are freed. I think JPost alo carried the promise.

        As to the high ratio, it was reported 4 or 5 years ago that Hizbullah was coaching Hamas on how to get the most out of Israel for Shalit. In 2004, Hizbullah completed the swap with Israel that returned the Israeli spy Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three IDF soldiers in exchange for 23 Lebanese prisoners, 5 other Arabs and 400 Palestinians and a promise by Israel that Kuntar would be released upon Hizbullah providing reasonable info on the missing Israeli aviator shot over Lebanon, Ron Arad, which of course Israel reneged on and was the cause behind Hizbullah capturing the 3 soldiers in 2006.

      • es1982
        es1982 on October 15, 2011, 10:24 am

        Elhanan Tannenbaum wasn’t a spy. He was a drug dealer. That was perhaps the dumbest prisoner exchange Israel ever agreed to – three dead bodies and one living criminal in exchange for hundreds of prisoners.

      • Samuel
        Samuel on October 15, 2011, 1:07 pm

        Walid – Israel didn’t “renege” on its part of the bargain concerning Ron Arad, Hizbollah simply didn’t come forward with any new info about him, not nescessarily for not trying, but the release of Samir Kuntar was conditional on receipt of actual new info.

        Es1982 – Elhanan Tannenbaum was in fact most likely a mossad agent, a fact which of course wouldn’t be openly revealed by anyone, especially not whilst under Hizbollah’s control. Mossad has a history of drug-connected involvements (Amiram Nir, Harari) and it is suspect why Ariel Sharon was so super insistant in getting his release. Also he was not prosecuted on his return (ostensibly in exchange for revealing all his Hizbollah experiences).

      • Walid
        Walid on October 15, 2011, 2:08 pm

        es1982, that was reserves Colonel Elhanan Tannenbaum. The drug deal story in Dubai was made up to save face for Israel because Israel doesn’t like to admit anything about its spies.

        I remember the night of the prisoners exchange on TV, with the 427 Arab prisoners flown on a Lufthansa plane to Germany before boarding another plane for Beirut, and the same reverse trip for Tannenbaum and the embarrassment he caused Israel in the first TV interview. Israeli journalists if he had been mistreated in his Lebanese captivity that had lasted 3 years and with a big wide smile on his face, said that no, not at all and that he had been treated most courteously and made comfortable and given good food all the time and all the books he could read. A that point Israeli military whisked him away and supposedly took him to be debriefed and taken to jail.

        Had he been a drug dealer, would Israel have given up 427 prisoners for him? There was a lot of talk about his eventual prosecution, but have you heard anything anywhere about his trial or his incarceration?

        The guy was a spy.

      • Walid
        Walid on October 15, 2011, 3:24 pm

        Samuel, thanks for the help on Tannenbaum.

        As to the reneged promise, you have almost all of it but without the filling details. When the 2004 Tannenbaum swap happened, Israel was adamant that it wouldnt release Kuntar unless it was provided with some substantive proof that Arad was either alive or dead. 2 of the Lebanese prisoners released in the 2004 had been abducted 10 years earlier from their homes by IDF commandos and they had been abducted specifically to be used in a swap for Arad. One was Cheikh Abdul-Karim Obeid, a Hizbullah pastor and the other was Mustapha Dirani that was subsequently sodomized by the IDF officer that today is chief liason officer for Arab affairs in the Jerusalem Police Department. Dirani to be released in the swap had to sign wavers for the criminal action suit that had been started in Israel on his behalf. As to the pastor, he was held and tortured at Israel’s secret concentration Camp 1391 for most of the 10 years.

        About a year later, Hizbullah via a 3rd party submitted to Israel a comprehensive report on the search for Arad to which Israel publicly declared that it had been satisfied that Hizbullah had really tried to find information on Arad. The report concluded that Arad was most probably dead. When the time came for the release of Kuntar, Arad’s family and supporters raised a big stink and refused to let Israel give up its last card to find Arad and Israel complied with the family request and held on to Kuntar.

        On the Lebanese side, Hizbullah was so sure that they were about to get Kuntar that it declared publicly that Kuntar would be home before the end of 2006. Everybody believed it as Nasrallah had the reputation of having never lied so his word was as good as gold. He reassured Kuntar’s mother that her son was on his way home but this was not in Israel’s plans. By July, it was getting obvious that Nasrallah’s promise would not be kept, so a decision was taken to abduct soldiers for swap for Kuntar.

        That night, Nasrallah on TV said that the abduction had taken place since Israel does not release any Lebanese prisoners unless during a swap and that he would now await negotiations to start. Israel answered by bombing Beirut the next morning. You know the rest.

  3. pabelmont
    pabelmont on October 13, 2011, 11:03 am

    The facts of Israel’s arrests, detentions, trials, imprisonments, torture (including MD cooperation) should be widely publicized so the USA’s people (especially Jews IMO) cannot say “we didn’t know”. The USA is “occupied” by more than Wall Street — it is also occupied by AIPAC and its fellow travelers. This army of occupation includes all those who could protest and do not.

  4. Kathleen
    Kathleen on October 13, 2011, 11:10 am

    Interesting ratio.

    Other interesting ratio’s at…. If Americans knew:
    Israelis and Palestinians Killed in the Current Violence
    At least 6,430 Palestinians and 1,084 Israelis
    have been killed since September 29, 2000.

    • DBG
      DBG on October 13, 2011, 11:51 am

      that was like one month in Libya.

      • MarkF
        MarkF on October 13, 2011, 12:53 pm

        Good point David, that’s why we shouldn’t be involved in either dispute.

        But you know as well as I do that the loss of just one of our relatives is one too many. I guess that’s why the neocons, who we both feel are wrong on war policies, don’t put their own children in harm’s way.

        We would never want our children to enlist in either of our armed forces, right?

      • DBG
        DBG on October 13, 2011, 1:00 pm

        MarkF, thank you for the response. I would never suggest or push for my child to join the armed forces, but if he/she (haven’t quite made a child yet) decided to I would support them, like I support all of our soldiers.

        As for loosing a relative, I couldn’t imagine, I have lost friends, who weren’t that close, in our latest foray and that was heartbreaking enough.

      • Shingo
        Shingo on October 13, 2011, 4:51 pm

        that was like one month in Libya.

        Where are you getting your numbers DBG?

  5. Samuel
    Samuel on October 13, 2011, 11:28 am

    Just to put the picture straight, these are hardly “political prisoners” but prisoners who have been tried for crimes such as murder, maiming, firearm possession, making weapons, etc.
    About 200 of those to be released are “lifers” which can only mean murder or aiding and abetting murder. Life imprisonment is not given to anyone else.
    Only a small number are there only because of their political affiliation without some sort of violent related offence associated with the affiliation (one could say that these and only these are similar to Shalit, he belongs to the IDF but has not been personally accused of any actual crime, violent or otherwise).
    Their fanilies suffered, but at least were allowed to visit their loved ones and receive letters, unlike Shalit.

    • Walid
      Walid on October 13, 2011, 11:51 am

      Samuel, to you these were crimes but to them it was a legitimate fight to free their land from the occupation. Who is to try the Israelis over Cast Lead?

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka on October 13, 2011, 12:01 pm

      “prisoners who have been tried for crimes such as murder, maiming, firearm possession, making weapons, etc.”

      LOL. Yeah, and who tried them?? Unless they were convicted by a fair and neutral judge and jury (i.e., non-Zionists, non-Israelis), their convictions must be presumed to be false convictions.

      • Samuel
        Samuel on October 13, 2011, 12:35 pm

        Well, Woody and Walid, fight it out between you. Woody says these aren’t murderers as they have not had a fair trial (they have). Walid thinks they did murder but did it as part of legitimate resistance.
        So did they or did they not murder, (whether justified or not)?

        And Woody – why judge and jury? Just because the US and UK have trial by jury it doesn’t make it god given. Even the ICC has no jury. And where do you know a neutral judge? Aren’t we all a product of our upbringing and surroundings? Will a white judge try a black defendant “neutrally”? Judges all over, even in Israel, are appointed with the hope and call for impatiality, and Israeli judges are no worse than any other country’s appointees.

        Walid – if there is ground for indicting Israelis for murder then so be it. But then you will have to justify Israel kidnapping UN soldiers and holding then captive to obtain the release of the prisoners.

      • annie
        annie on October 13, 2011, 12:40 pm

        But then you will have to justify Israel kidnapping UN soldiers and holding then captive to obtain the release of the prisoners.

        instead of kidnapping children eh.

      • Donald
        Donald on October 13, 2011, 1:24 pm

        Samuel, perhaps you could try holding two thoughts in your head simultaneously.

        First, one normally doesn’t trust the justice system of an occupying power enforcing an apartheid system to be scrupulously fair. Second, those prisoners who really were guilty of violence against civilians are no worse than the Israelis who killed civilians in Cast Lead. These two thoughts don’t necessarily contradict each other. Oh, sorry, that was a third thought.

        But if you can’t handle even two, just try to wrap your head around one at a time.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka on October 13, 2011, 1:32 pm

        Well, Woody and Walid, fight it out between you. Woody says these aren’t murderers as they have not had a fair trial (they have). Walid thinks they did murder but did it as part of legitimate resistance.
        So did they or did they not murder, (whether justified or not)?

        Samuel, nothing to fight out. I questioned the legitimacy of their conviction, Walid questioned the label of “murder.” There is no conflict in these positions. Indeed, one of the main reasons to object to the conviction is because a killing can be a homocide, but not a murder (as when a soldier kills another during a war, or were a partisan kills an occupier.)

        And Woody – why judge and jury? Just because the US and UK have trial by jury it doesn’t make it god given. Even the ICC has no jury.

        Since there is no god, nothing is god given. I simply believe that the jury system is a better system for non-technical matters. Especially when the judge and the prosecution are both cashing checks written by the party against whom the defendant is fighting.

        And where do you know a neutral judge? Aren’t we all a product of our upbringing and surroundings?

        Yes, so get a judge whose upbringing and surroundings isn’t the Zionist occupation of Palestine.

        Will a white judge try a black defendant “neutrally”?

        Some will, some won’t. When the judge is answerable to the same political forces which is directing the oppression — as was the case in the Jim Crow era South in the US, and in Israel today — the judge is often just another thug in robes. In the US, federal law, federal courts and federal judges were the solution to Southern judges dispensing injustice. What is the solution to the Israeli thugs in robes?

        The fact that you wouldn’t call for Israelis to be tried by Palesintian Muslim judges, answerable to the PA or to Hamas, demonstrates that you understand the concept, but are simply unwilling to apply it here because we’re talking about Israeli judges.

        Judges all over, even in Israel, are appointed with the hope and call for impatiality, and Israeli judges are no worse than any other country’s appointees.

        So you say. I disagree. I don’t see how any Zionist can be “impartial” when the defendant is a member of the people who the Zionist ideology is setting out to destroy. They are — at the very least — a toe in the boot of occupation, and the victims of their injustice have no political recourse against them.

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye on October 13, 2011, 1:59 pm

        Perhaps a pertinent western comparison is with the UK and Northern Ireland. There were numerous prisoners held having been convicted of just the same crimes as you cite. However, they WERE considered to be political prisoners, because of the nature of their cause, and upon the peace agreement were freed. There was plenty of blood on their hands. It is also true to say that some were later convicted of subsequent crimes, while many others – among them some quite prominent fighters, who had killed many times – became fully committed to peace.
        In regard to justice in NI, or to Irish/Roman Catholic, Britain was very often very poor in its dispensation. In my view, Israel is worse for a multitude of reasons which are not applicable to the NI situation.

      • Samuel
        Samuel on October 14, 2011, 11:19 am

        I apologize O Donald for my inferior intellect in not being able to hold two thoughts in my head, not like you, an obvious intellectual giant who must have at least 23 degrees.

        And to the point: you say: “one normally doesn’t trust the justice system of an occupying power enforcing an apartheid system to be scrupulously fair. Second, those prisoners who really were guilty of violence against civilians are no worse than the Israelis who killed civilians in Cast Lead”
        Well, Israel is adhearing to the Forth Geneva Conv. by setting up these courts to maintain security, and in fact there is no jurisdiction in the Israeli courts to try Palestinians from the WB unless the offence was committed in Israel. So who do you think should try them?
        These courts are run with all the rules of evidence and procedure according to regular Israeli law. So what’s unfair?

        And yes, any Israeli, soldier or otherwise, who deliberately targeted civilians should be tried in similar manner to Palestinians who do likewise.

  6. jon s
    jon s on October 13, 2011, 2:54 pm

    There are various categories of Palestinian prisoners in Israel. There are, for instance, administrative detainees who probably shouldn’t be in jail at all. On the other extreme there are terrorists , responsible for horrific atrocities, really bad people. Imagining them back on the streets is disturbing, to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, though: I absolutely support the exchange. As a society, we have an obligation to bring that boy home, despite the price.

    • Chaos4700
      Chaos4700 on October 13, 2011, 11:07 pm

      WHAT PRICE? God damn it, seriously. As if Israel ever fucking pays any price. Over a thousand Gazans have died for the sake of Shalit — depending on what day of the week you ask any given Israeli as to why the siege and Operation Cast Lead happened, anyway. There are THOUSANDS more prisoners being held by your racist little police state. Does Palestine have THOUSANDS of Israelis in prison? No? Then seriously, SHUT UP with the whining about price.

      We all know what the phrase “price tag” really means to Israelis.

    • Walid
      Walid on October 14, 2011, 3:16 am

      “As a society, we have an obligation to bring that boy home, despite the price.”

      The Palestinians too had an obligation to hold on to its captured prisoner to use him in an exchange that would free Palestinians from Israeli jails.

      Israel has a proven track record of never ever releasing prisoners unless during exchanges for captured Israeli soldiers or their remains. Hundreds of prisoners were released to Hizbullah when it involved getting Israeli soldiers back and it was thanks to this firm Hizbullah attitude that there are no longer any Lebanese in Israeli jails.

      • Samuel
        Samuel on October 14, 2011, 11:23 am

        Not true, Walid, since Oslo Israel has time and time again released prisoners early as so-called “confidence building measures”. I would even say more than the number released as a result of exchanges.

      • Walid
        Walid on October 14, 2011, 2:05 pm

        Samuel, I was telling you about the Lebanese experience. There were of course some minor returns of prisoners suchas a few young or very old shepherds that Israel picked up in cross-border raids and released them a few days later, or the Israeli nightclubber, Daniel Sharon, that kept visiting Beirut bars until caught and deported a couple of weeks later or an Israeli swimmer that was returned by Lebanon last week. It was Israel that taught Hizbullah the art of capturing prisoners to be used in future exchanges and worse still, the gory art of trading in body parts.

  7. Erasmus
    Erasmus on October 13, 2011, 4:43 pm

    Marwan Barghouti to be freed – Haaretz reports, see:

    By Chaim Levinson
    The most prominent name on the list of prisoners to be released in exchange for Gilad Shalit is Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was arrested in April 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield.

    Do you believe it??
    I do not.

  8. biorabbi
    biorabbi on October 13, 2011, 8:34 pm

    Marwan Barghouti will not be released and Hamas did not insist on this particular name. Neither Israel nor Hamas want Barghouti to be released, but their reasons differ.

    • Chaos4700
      Chaos4700 on October 13, 2011, 11:08 pm

      Do their reasons actually differ, on a fundamental level?

      • Walid
        Walid on October 14, 2011, 3:22 am

        Neither does Abbas and Company. Other than for his wife, I don’t think many want to have Barghoutti back in action. I always thought of him as a clone of Arafat. If he is ever released, it would be probably conditional upon him living out his life in the Gobi Desert.

      • Erasmus
        Erasmus on October 14, 2011, 4:27 am

        Re: Walid October 14, 2011 at 3:22 am

        …”I don’t think many want to have Barghoutti back in action. I always thought of him as a clone of Arafat….”

        What makes you think, that not many want MB set free?
        In my judgement, he would be the only charismatic Palestinian leader who could successfully manage a genuine Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, and at the same time be a reliable, but principled partner for any pragmatic I-P peace policies without giving in too much by way of any further “compromising” on fundamental palestinian positions.
        Maybe, that is why Israel doesnot release him….?
        Maybe, that is why the Fatah establishment is not overly keen to effect his release…?

      • Walid
        Walid on October 14, 2011, 7:42 am

        Erasmus, Abbas wants so much to stay in power that his term expired over 2 years ago and he is still r efusing to step down or to announce coming electons. Barghoutti would take over Abbas’ job in no time and he lost the Presidency at the last elections with lots of help by Israel that was rooting for Abbas.. The list of names on Ma’an News that Annie provided doe not show Marwan Barghoutti’s name. Much lesser people are being expelled out of Israel and the OT, so why wouldn’t Marwan Barghoutti be also expelled if released? Abbas’Prime Minister Fayyad is no better and he too is overholding and he was never elected to anything by the Palestinians but simply parachuted into his position after Abbas, Israel and the US refused to accept Hamas’ election victory. Fayyad worked at the WB and the IMF, both organizations notorious for taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Therefore, a loose Barghoutti would be bad news for practically everybody.

      • Erasmus
        Erasmus on October 14, 2011, 10:58 am

        Thanks, Walid.
        I agree with all but the starting statement of yours, which imho had been a bit misleading. It misled me.

        In sum, also what you explain underlines, that actually many want to see MB set free and in action; it is only few who do not.

      • Walid
        Walid on October 14, 2011, 12:41 pm

        Erasmus, I’d like to make a small correction to the post you responded to. I inadvertently mixed another Barghouti with Marwan in my description of Abbas and the elections of the Presidency. My mind was on Mustapha Barghouti that ran against Abbas and Israel did everything to prevent him from campaigning properly. Marwan Barghouti was in jail at the time of the elections and some tried to draft him into running from inside the prison but it didn’t work.

        I wasn’t a fan of either Marwan Barghouti or Arafat. Palestinians need a totally new crop of politicians to get them out of their mess. The current ones have all failed. But since I’m not Palestinian, my political thoughts are of no consequence.

  9. Sherri Munnerlyn
    Sherri Munnerlyn on October 13, 2011, 9:04 pm

    The Palestinian prisoners have not been convicted in lawful trials, so the convictions have no real legitimacy. They are also being held in prisons unlawfully in Israel, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits Occupiers from holding prisoners outside of occupied territories. Yesh Din Report, 2007, addressed lack of due process in trial proceedings in Military Courts in the OPT, finding at every step of the proceedings, Palestinians were denied due process rights, in a 180 page report. Severe shortcomings were uncovered. Here are some statistics addressing the nature of the cases before military courts, in the years 2002-2006 the Military Prosecution filed more than 43,000 indictments, about a third were security related offenses, 5% charged the defendant with murder or attempted murder (1% murder, 4% attempted murder). Presumption of innocence is a key component of due process rights, but Security Legislation is silent regarding the presumption of innocence in military courts and it does not appear to be followed looking at this data, of 9123 cases concluded in the military courts in 2006 , only in 23 cases, 0.29% of the rulings, was the defendant found entirely not guilty. Another indication that this presumption was not in operation, of detainees released prior to the filing of an indictment, after 118 detention hearings, only 1 person was released. Detention hearings lasted an average of only 3 minutes and four seconds, and typically resulted in extensions of detainees detention by 10.2 days. Hearings to authorize detention until the end of the proceedings , which can extend 1 or 2 years, took an average of 1 minute and 54 seconds. In all proceedings where the Prosecutor asked for this in which Yesh Din representatives were present, the Court granted the Prosecution motion. According to IDF data, by the end of 2006, two thirds of the defendants of cases still under deliberation were held in detention. This is a very detailed report and it addresses serious due process shortcomings at every step of the legal process, from detention to conviction to incarceration.

    • Samuel
      Samuel on October 14, 2011, 11:40 am

      As I mentioned above the courts are 100% legal and convened in accordance with the relevant sections of the Geneva Conv.

      The Yesh Din report is 5 years old, the statistics have vastly improved since then, partly because of pressure by B’tzelem and Yesh Din.

      Due process is not an internationally recognised standard to which one can measure adherence. The military courts adhere to the law of Israel and the relevant statutes of the courts and have due process in accordence with the law.

      The average times of hearings is small and seemingly unfair mainly because in the vast amount of remand cases there is either agreement by the defence, or it is a request for a deferment for a few days – such a hearing takes as much time as it took me to type these words.

      The presumption of innocence is not a derivative of statistical analysis but the law, and strictly enforced by all military judges as a prerequisite incumbant on the prosecution to disprove “beyond all reasonable doubt”

      Most of the less serious prisoners are held in the Ofer prison near Ramallah and in the OT. Others are indeed held in Israel. But this is rather a technical problem, as were Israel to build prisons on occupied land what would the world say about stealing more lands for this purpose…?

  10. annie
    annie on October 13, 2011, 11:52 pm

    ma’an has published a list of prisoner names to be released. many exiled. i guess that was part of the deal.

    • Walid
      Walid on October 14, 2011, 3:26 am

      The ethnic cleansing goes on, but with a new twist this time. This means that there’s a good chance their families would chose to live in exile too, and even more Palestinians being uproted.

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