Egypt urged to pressure Israel to release rearrested freed prisoners – by Khalid Amayreh

[ PIC 29/02/2012 – 09:12 PM ]

From Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine

Palestinian political factions have urged the Egyptian government to forcefully pressure Israel to release rearrested Palestinian prisoners freed a few months ago as part of an Egyptian-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinian liberation group, Hamas.

According to the agreement, Hamas released an Israeli soldier, Gila’ad Shalit, in return for the release of hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners and resistance activists. Hamas’ officials said the Egyptian authorities undertook to see to it that Israel doesn’t renege on the agreement by re-arresting freed prisoners.

Israel, Palestinian sources say, has rearrested as many as five prisoners freed in the Shalit deal. Israel is also stepping up the scandalous practice of sending suspected Palestinian activists to “administrative detention” for protracted periods, reaching in some cases 12 years.

A few years ago, one Israeli prison officer reportedly told Palestinian detainees that “we will do to you what the Nazis did to us, and eventually you may do to others what we have done to you.” The quote appeared in one of the Arabic newspapers published in East Jerusalem .

The freed prisoners rearrested in recent days and weeks include a young man from the Hebron region, named Adnan Sharawneh, and another activist in the northern West Bank .

Israel rearrested Hana’a Shalabi, who was also freed as part of the Egyptian-brokered deal, on 16 February.

Shalabi, an Islamist Jihad activist, has been on an open-ended hunger strike ever since her latest arrest to protest humiliating Israeli treatment, including so-called” naked searches,” beating, and solitary confinement.

Shalabi, who had suffered two years of administrative detention, is also protesting her incarceration without charge or trial.

Israel says it has secret evidence against Shalabi, but refuses to disclose the alleged evidence to Shalabi’s lawyer lest he expose the frivolousness of the false charges against his client in court.

Last month, another Islamic Jihad activist, Khadr Adnan, ended a prolonged and highly-publicized hunger strike lasting for 66 days, also in protest against open-ended captivity in Israeli jails and dungeons without charge or trial.

His decision to end the hunger strike came after the Israeli authorities agreed to release him within two months.

Israel feared that his death might trigger widespread unrest throughout the occupied territories.

Egypt must step in

Saleh Aruri, who is in charge of the prisoner’s portfolio in Hamas, said the movement wouldn’t have agreed to the terms of the Shalit deal had it not been for the guarantees and assurances given to Hamas by the Egyptian authorities.

“I think the Egyptian government is bound morally and legally to demand the immediate release of the rearrested prisoners. We are going to contact the Egyptian brothers to press them to intervene.”

Aruri, himself a former prisoner who had spent as many as 15 years in Israeli detention camps, said Israel was trying to test the Egyptian’s forbearance.

“I think the Israelis imagine that Egypt is too preoccupied with its internal affairs and has little or no time for the Palestinians. But this is not true, and we expect some progress in this regard in the coming days, God willing.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has also criticized “Israeli piracy and gangsterisn,” accusing the Israeli authorities of behaving “like a gang of bandits and common criminals.”

“By re-arresting some of these freed prisoners in violation of the Egyptian-mediated deal; Israel is demonstrating contempt and disregard for Egypt and its government. I believe the proverbial ball is squarely in the Egyptian court,” said Issa Karaki’, PA minister for Prisoners’ affairs.

“We will not rest until all our brave and honorable prisoners are released.”

“They want the prisoners to emigrate.”

Israel is holding hundreds of Palestinians in administrative detention, and the number keeps rising.

The Israeli justice system, a mere rubber stamp in the hands of the security apparatus, refuses to apply normal legal procedure to these prisoners who often don’t know why they are in jail or when they will go home.

Instead, many of the prisoners are made to languish in Israeli detention camps for years for the purpose of breaking their wills and destroying their spirits.

“I think the ultimate Israeli goal is to force these people to leave Palestine . It is ethnic cleansing, Period,” said Ra’ed Amr, a veteran prisoner from Hebron who spent more than 17 years in Israeli jails for peacefully resisting the Israeli occupations.

“Israelis are lying to the world, they tell the west they are a democratic state, but the west should realize that people here are imprisoned for many years without charge or trial. Does this sound democratic?”

Israel also feels immune from international especially American criticisms due to the disproportional clout of Jewish pressure groups at the American political arena. Israel is widely perceived to have overwhelming control over American policies and politics.

Moreover, Jewish-controlled or Jewish influenced media in the West, especially in North America , usually refrain from publishing news and views which portray the Jewish state in bad light.

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