Freedom for Over 1000 Palestinian Prisoners But Not Saadat or Barghouti

Palestine’s Prisoners – Worldwide Event | Pictures | Topic | Category

Palestinians demonstrate in support of Palestinian prisoners held in the Israeli jails, on 13 October 2011 in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Israel and Hamas have reached a deal that would see the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. (Photo: AFP – Musa al-Shaer)

Yahya Dabouq | Al Akhbar | Published Thursday, October 13, 2011

This week Israeli press released details of a prospective prisoner swap between Hamas and the Zionist state. Israel promises to return over 1000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Text: Israel agreed to terms this week that will return Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners currently detained by Israel. Shalit has been held by Hamas since the summer of 2006. The exchange is one of the largest swaps between Palestinians and Israel, exceeded in number only by the 1985 exchange which saw the release of 1,150 Palestinian prisoners. The deal between Hamas and Israel culminates five years of unsuccessful negotiations.

According to Yoram Cohen, head of Israel’s internal security services (Shabak), the exchange “does not include a number of Hamas’s top officials.” He added that “a number of the movement’s West Bank military leaders, such as Abdallah Barghouthi, Ibrahim Hamed, and Abbas al-Sayyed…will remain in prison.” The same applies to other top Palestinian leaders, such Ahmad Saadat, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi.

Cohen said the exchange will take place next Tuesday, when Shalit is expected to arrive in Israel. According to Israeli television reports, the release of the Palestinian prisoners will be implemented in two phases: the first will include “479 Palestinian security prisoners, of which 279 are serving life sentences. An additional 110 will be released to their cities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among these are 55 Hamas members, with the rest belonging to Fatah and other Palestinian factions.”

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that 131 prisoners will be returned to their homes in Gaza, including high-level Hamas leaders. As for the 203 prisoners who are from the West Bank, 40 will be distributed to locations outside Palestine altogether, and the remainder will be released in Gaza. Of these, 18 will be allowed to return to the West Bank after three years.

The most notable part of the exchange, according to Haaretz, is the release of six long-term Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention. Also included in the deal are 27 female prisoners, two of whom (Ahlam al-Tamimi and Amina Muna) will be exiled to Jordan and the Gaza Strip. The remaining women will be allowed to return to their homes in Palestine.

Cohen warned that “Israel has not given Hamas any guarantees that it will not go after the prisoners after their release.” He adds that “half of those released to the West Bank, around 50 prisoners, will be under tight security restrictions that prevent them from leaving the city where they reside.”

For his part, the chief Israeli negotiator David Midan said that he is making final preparations for Gilad’s return. “Shortly I’ll be going to Egypt with a delegation to receive him — only then can we celebrate.”

Sivan Wietzman, spokeswoman for the Israeli Prison Service, made a previous announcement that the names of Palestinian prisoners included in the deal would not be revealed until Friday or Sunday at the latest — after the Israeli authorities carefully rechecked the full roster.

Thanking the Turkish government for their role in the exchange, Israeli President Shimon Perez said “the position of the Turkish government was a nice surprise for me, for I was told that they put everything aside, and prioritized humanitarian considerations over political ones.” Turkey’s role in the exchange was further confirmed by sources saying that Hamas leader Khaled Mishal personally appealed to the Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu to inform him about the details of the swap.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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