Gilad Shalit and the Palestinian Prisoner Exchange–Israeli and Palestinian analyses

We at Tikkun welcome the freeing of Gilad Shalit and Palestinian prisoners. This is certainly a time for celebration–perfect for the current Jewish holiday of Sukkot, zman simchateynu–the time for our great joy (the harvest festival). We salute Israel and Hamas for making the compromises necessary to allow this exchange to take place!! And we salute Benjamin Netanyahu for finally taking a step he could have taken years ago, but still, he has taken it now, and gets our thanks. We join with Bradley Burston (see below) in celebrating the people of Israel who made this exchange possible.

There are thousands more still in prison in Israel. Few have received trial by a jury of their peers. Many have been imprisoned for resisting the occupation army, NOT for acts of terrorism against civilians. They too deserve freedom. The Western media has told us endlessly about the details of the Shalit family, while we know little about the thousands of Palestinians still being held in Israeli jails, or about most of those who have been released (except for the genuine terrorists amongst them who get the attention of the media). Here again the media contributes to the one-sided picture that humanizes Israelis, makes Palestinians invisible, and leads Palestinians to feel that their reality will never be understood in the West. None of this, however, should keep us from rejoicing that Gilad Shalit has been freed at last, a demand we supported from the start of his captivity. He was not “kidnapped,” as the propaganda tried to portray, but was a soldier in uniform who was captured by the other side, a prisoner of war,  and as is the case in wars, was freed in a prisoner exchange. But as such he should have been given the right to visits from the Red Cross (though his captors reasonably argued that they could not hold him successfully once his location had been revealed), or at least from teams of doctors from Arab states. Similarly, Palestinians who have been tortured by Israel should have been given immediate access to medical care and then released. That Israeli prisoners have been tortured has been established over and over again by international human rights organizations, as well as by B’tselem, the Israeli human rights organization. This would be a wonderful moment for Israel to open its prisons to international human rights organizations, and allow them to investigate and put forward a list of changes on how to put on trial in a fair way those who are held for resisting the occupation, what kind of interrogation would trigger automatic release (e.g. torture), and what kind of conditions under which prisoners could be held (presumably not under the scorching sun in huge prison camps), setting standards that could then justifiably be demanded of Hamas as well? Having said all that, we also want to acknowledge the feelings of pride in Israel expressed by Bradley Burston below who correctly notes the high value put on individual lives of fellow Israelis in the IDF by the Israeli population.

Here we present some of the views that you may not hear in the mainstream Western media, first from Uri Avnery, chair of Gush Shalom, the Israeli human rights organization, then by two columnists in Ha’aretz, the Israeli equivalent of the NY Times. Then we present a Palestinian activist reflecting on what it means to be a prisoner and how that impacts on the consciousness of those held in Israeli prisons.

Here is Uri Avnery on the Prisoner Exchange as excerpted in a Gush Shalom Press Release:

“Like every Israeli citizen today, I welcome Gilad Shalit with all my heart on his return home. I am happy for his parents, who have conducted such a dedicated and persistent, touched the heartstrings and moved the government and did the impossible – to return their son home” says former Knesset Member Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom activist.

“On this day I can also fell happy for hundreds of Palestinian families who get back their sons, some after decades in prison. Many among us find it difficult to understand how people who are considered in Israel as heinous murderers are regarded on the other side as heroes. This is not the first time in history that people are considered despicable terrorists by one side and as freedom fighter by the other. The Etzel and Lehi undergrounds carried out numerous operations in which civilians were killed. I myself joined the Etzel (Irgun) at the age of fifteen,  in protest against the execution of Shlomo Ben Yosef, who had fired on a civilian bus full of Palestinians women and children, with the intention of indiscriminately killing its  passengers. In the State of Israel,  Shlomo Ben Yosef is considered a hero, for whom  streets are named and whose picture appeared on postage stamps.

In recent days the media was full of demagogic assertions that ‘undoubtedly’  prisoners released now would resume taking part in violent acts against Israel. This is definitely not pre-ordained, and to a considerable degree it depends on us, too. Indeed, if we continue to insist on not achieving peace, if we continue the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, then the conflict would continue and mutual bloodshed would go on – whether or not we release prisoners. But if we manage to pass onward from an agreement on prisoner exchange for a peace agreement between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, it might be possible to make the release of prisoners, carried out today, into as part of building trust between the two peoples. Let us not forget that many Palestinians prisoners learned Hebrew in prison, and they know Israel better than almost any other group among Palestinians. Many prisoners who were freed after the Oslo Agreements became known among their people as outstanding adherents of peace.

In the framework of a peace agreement, it would be possible to reach an agreement on freeing all the Palestinian prisoners – not as ‘a heavy price’ to be paid with despondency and among a controversy, but as an act of opening a new page between the two nations – as in South Africa, where all prisoners from all sides were released at the end of Apartheid. Nelson Mandela – who himself spent twenty-eight years in prison for on charges of terrorism – signed upon his election as President also the pardons of white racists who had murdered blacks. “

Here is a Ha’aretz opinion piece by Bradley Burston:

Bravo for these people, these Israelis

Israel has freed 13,509 prisoners in order to win the release of a total of 16 soldiers. An average of well over 800 for each one. But this is the price.

By Bradley Burston in Ha’aretz

He did the right thing.

Keeping a promise can entail a terrible choice. Which is why Israelis’ outpouring of support for a prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit deserves profound admiration, even wonder.In driving their leaders to accept the deal, in supporting Benjamin Netanyahu for having assented to it, Israelis by the millions are gambling their very lives, and those of their loved ones. And all just to keep a promise.

On the face of it, the exchange is preposterous, in some ways, borderline suicidal. On the face of it, agreeing with Hamas to the release of more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, many of them to this day proud of having committed heinous murders of innocent people in premeditated acts of terrorism, makes little sense.

Israelis know that the exchange will bolster the recently flagging popularity of Hamas, in particular its more militant figures. It could seriously undermine Palestinian moderates, foster a return of large-scale terrorism, and deal a telling blow to the Palestinian Authority, in the process eroding the security of Israelis on both sides of the Green Line.
The deal to bring Gilad Shalit back to his family is painful to Israelis bereaved by terror. It is, by any measure, chillingly dangerous.

And it was the right thing to do.

The deal is a remnant of an Israel which is fast disappearing. It is a remnant of a particular brand of quiet, exceptional courage. It is an expression of a national character that goes generally ignored in a media environment which prizes the extreme over the honorable. It is evidence of a people true to values which time and sectarian agendas may appear to have diluted and erased.

The deal for Gilad Shalit is a remnant of a promised land that – to those everyday people who donate their very youth, their very lives, in order to defend it – still believes it important to keep its promises.

The first of those promises is a simple one. When they draft you and process you and inoculate you and arm you and begin to use you, they spell it out, to you and your family both: If you are lost on the field of battle, we will get you back. Whatever it takes.
Whatever it takes. Even if it takes much too much.

The list of the terrorists being released is unendurable. The numbers are beyond understanding. Until you consider that this is how it’s always been.

In Israel’s nine prisoner exchanges with Arab enemies, dating back to the first, 54 years ago, Israel has freed 13,509 prisoners in order to win the release of a total of 16 soldiers. An average of well over 800 for each one. This is the price.

It is said that the people on the list for the current deal have been directly responsible for the deaths of 599 Israelis. Had Israelis waited longer for a deal, however, Gilad Shalit might well have made it 600.

On Tuesday morning, Israelis by the millions, heard a sentence that allowed them, at long last, to begin to breathe again: Gilad Shalit is no longer in Hamas hands.

There is something still extraordinary about the core of these people, the Israelis. In the summer, when hundreds of thousands marched in the streets for social justice, they roared their endorsement of a deal such as this to free Gilad Shalit.

In perhaps the most exceptional expressions of backing, even some of those most personally and deeply wounded by the terrorists to be freed, have come out in support.

“From the standpoint of a mother, I’m in favor of the price that’s been paid in order to bring Gilad Shalit home,” Sarit Golumbek, who lost her son Zvi 10 years ago in the bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, told Yedioth Ahronoth last week. “My heart is with the Shalit family.”

There is no understanding what Sarit Golumbek has been through. There is no understanding what Israelis as a people have just done, in keeping that kind of promise, displaying this depth of compassion, taking this kind of risk, to bring home one of their own. Someone they never knew until it was too late.

But Israel being what it is, many, many of them came to know the Shalit family personally, on their walks the length and breadth of Israel, or in the tent by the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, the protest tent that was their home until the news came that their son was finally to be freed.

Bravo for the people who brought Gilad home. Bravo for these people, these Israelis, who held a part of their breath for five years and four months, waiting for news of someone they did not know, but who could just as easily have been their own.

Bravo, as well, for Benjamin Netanyahu. He did what the people of Israel wanted. That is his job. He did not do the bidding of a raucous, vicious minority. He took courage in a courageous people. That is why he is there.

Here is a Ha’aretz Editorial:

Ha’aretz Editorial

Shalit deal signals return of the will of the people

The deal to free Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity was no different in essence than previous deals between Israel and its enemies. Essentially, it was an exact replica of the well-known formula under which Israel releases hundreds of prisoners in exchange for a single soldier, or at most a handful.

The fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to sign such a deal, which utterly contradicts his stated worldview, seems to indicate that while the hand that signed the deal was indeed Netanyahu’s, the strings were pulled by the Israeli public.

It is only now, when the dream of Gilad at home with his family in Mitzpeh Hila has become a concrete reality, that we can state definitively that it came true by virtue of the fact that Shalit’s story was kept alive in the collective Israeli consciousness for five years and four months.

The ongoing public campaign for his release has retroactively been proven effective, even if at times, it seemed as if it had gotten out of control, or alternatively, disappeared over the horizon into despair.

Nevertheless, it’s no coincidence that the campaign succeeded at this particular moment. The summer’s protests, which began with the prices of cottage cheese and housing, gradually expanded to include additional groups within Israeli society. At all the mass demonstrations that shook Israel’s town squares, Shalit’s story occupied a prominent position, via the signs the demonstrators carried and the vocal calls for his release.

Ultimately, it didn’t take long for cottage cheese prices to fall – and for Gilad Shalit to come home.

In effect, and almost without anyone realizing it, the Israeli public decided to circumvent the accepted system of representative democracy and establish a kind of direct democracy, one that rests on a list of specific demands read out in town squares, to which the decision makers then acquiesce.

Ironically, it is precisely the 18th Knesset – which has been noteworthy for a series of anti-democratic bills and laws, and whose undeclared mission seems to be undermining the power of Israel’s citizens in order to strengthen an ideological nationalist framework – that has been compelled against its will to carry out the will of the people, even if this will contradicts its own worldview.

Yet this is no paradox. Rather, it is a lesson that the people have taught their representatives.

Here are Mazin Qumiseyeh’s thoughts:

Mazin Qumiseyeh’s Reflections on the Shalit-Palestinian Prisoner Exchange

It is good news that over 1000 Palestinian political prisoners will be
released in a prison swap deal.  But there are still thousands of
Palestinian political prisoners.  This Saturday we will be discussing in our
cultural group the new book by Marwan Barghouthi about his life behind bars.
He will apparently not be part of this prisoner exchange deal neither will
Ahmed Saadat of PFLP nor other key leaders.  For English readers on this
list, I translated my review (originally in Arabic) of Barghouthi’s book and
included it here.  Below that I include some text on prisoners from my book
“Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment.” Hopefully, those two
sections will give you some idea about the struggles of political prisoners.
Hopefully, Hamas (which did not get all it wanted but did score a political
victory here) and Fatah (which scored a political victory by abandoning the
futile US-led bilateral negotiations but also did not get all it wanted)
could now implement their signed agreements especially on representation in
the PNC. >

Comparing Books by political prisoners: Nelson Mandela and Marwan Barghouthi
Review by Mazin Qumsiyeh

I read Nelson Mandel’s inspiring autobiography many years ago. His book was
titled “Long Walk to Freedom” because it was done after the end of
apartheid.   Marwan Barghouthi’s book is not an autobiography in that sense
because our people’s walk to freedom is still ongoing. It is thus titled
“One thousand days in prison isolation cell” and refers to a part of the
struggle. We indeed look for the day that our political prisoners can write
books at the end of the road to freedom.

Barghouthi’s book is dedicated to his wife, his children, to the Palestinian
people, to the Arab and Islamic world, to all those who struggle and resist
occupation and colonization, and to fellow prisoners. Mandela’s book
similarly recalls family, people, and fellow political prisoners.

Barghouthi recalls his village life in Kuber with much passion and love in
his newest book but you will find the national cause dominate the book.
While Kuber is mentioned two or three times, Palestine is mentioned on just
about every paragraph. Mandela had a rural beginning in a small village
called Mvezo and still retains that love of land.  He was a shepherd and
ploughed lands.  He dreamed of becoming a lawyer and was like Barghouthi
interested in learning. He enrolled at Birzeit University in 1983 but due to
exile and other factors only finished his bachelor in 1994 (in history and
political science).  In 1998, he got masters in international relations.
Both Mandela and Barghouthi led youth movements in their teens and became
strong leaders even as they were pursued and jailed.

Mandela like Barghouthi reports on mistreatment, lengthy incarcerations,
resisting, and all that you expect from someone who went through such
experiences.  Mandela like Barghouthi says that it is not what he actually
did that he was being punished for but for what he stood for. Both were
charged by the respective apartheid regimes of leading armed guerrilla
groups.

Through these writings, you see a common characteristic: great humility.
They do not elevate themselves above the thousands who struggle for freedom.
Even though some of us consider them key leaders, they themselves see their
role as foot soldiers. Barghouthi describes being beaten on his private
parts and losing consciousness waking later to find a gash on his head from
falling and hitting the cement wall.  The gash left a permanent mark.  But
immediately after describing this, Barghouthi merely says (p. 21) that is it
is merely a small example of what tens of thousands of activists were
subjected to.

In the mid 1950s Mandela devised a plan and convinced fellow ANC leaders to
adopt it that created a decentralized structure. Cells are formed at the
grassroots level and select among them leadership at intermediate levels
which insured secrecy and yet some level of democracy and operational
meaning.  Barghouthi recalls how he was not happy about Arafat’s autocratic
structure and especially those around Arafat many of them were corrupt and
not dedicated to the Palestinian struggle.

Barghouthi and Mandela speak of psychological warfare including the games of
good investigator and bad investigator played to break prisoners’ will.  A
lot of what he says about mistreatment in prison will not be new to
Palestinians alive today.  Most Palestinians above age 30 have tasted at
least some of these pains.  Of course Barghouthi suffered more than most
Palestinian males his age.

Barghouthi talks about how critical the visit by his lawyer was to break his
isolation and makes him feel connected to life outside the prison.  Mandela
also refers to the psychological boost received by knowing that people
outside continue the struggle and care about the freedom of political
prisoners.

Barghouthi states on page 130 how in prison you have lots of time to think.
He recalls these thoughts in detail and they range from his feelings of
solidarity with all persecuted and oppressed people around the world to poor
programming on Palestinian television (when the channel was allowed in
prisons).  Barghouthi speaks about his passions like reading books. He
speaks of his love for his family. He speaks of women liberation. He speaks
of learning languages in jail. The thoughts of Mandela in jail also dealt
with similar issues. Barghouthi describes solitary confinement as “slow
death” (p. 81). Mandela calls them the “dark years”.

Barghouthi speaks about how the US and western positions put significant
pressures on Arafat and that finally, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas was appointed prime
minister.  Abbas, according to Barghouthi, was known for his positions
against resistance (p. 156).  In one section he talks about how leadership
did not rise to the challenge or match the enormous struggle, aspirations
and needs of the people.

Barghouthi says on page 148 that Israel can defeat a particular leader or
faction or group of people but cannot defeat the will of the Palestinian
people. On the next page he articulates beautifully why resistance in all
its types is so critical to success in achieving our collective goals.  The
cost of occupation and colonization must be made unbearable or at least more
than the benefit from it for Israel to back off.

Barghouthi speaks about how his political actions did not stop in jail.  He
gives several examples including the Palestinian factions observing a cease
fire that started 19 December 2001 on the eve of the visit by American envoy
General Anthony Zinni. That cease fire lasted for nearly a month but was
broken by Israel’s assassination of Ra’ed Karmi.

Barghouthi recalls that one of the more painful episodes was the abduction
of his son Qassam. His letter to his son takes 30 pages of the book! It is
an amazing letter that recalls the history of Palestine, the history of
struggle, the history of the prisoner movement and much more.  But the
letter also reflects on feelings and attitude of Barghouthi himself in key
periods of his life.  How he felt when his son was born while he is in jail.
How he built a relationship with his wife despite being a man spending most
of his life either on the run or in jail.  It is very detailed mentioning
dates and events and surroundings that put the reader (his son and us) in
those circumstances.  He recalls the death of his father 5 August 1985.  He
talked about his biggest pains (which were not the interrogations, torture
or solitary confinement) but when he was exiled to Jordan in the late 1980s.
Yet he also says that after his family joined him in exile from the
homeland, the family life alleviated the pain of exile from his homeland.
The letter ends with recommendations he gives to his son like any father
gives to his son.  But here the recommendations are about exercising,
reading books, learning languages, and keeping friendly relations with
fellow prisoners.

The book finishes with a section about his wife and a final section about
collaborators in Israeli jails.  It is significant that he decided to
conclude with detailed exposure of the despicable methods of collaborations.
Similarly, Mandela’s autobiography includes a section on treason.

Oliver Tambo described Mandela as passionate, fearless, impatient and
sensitive.  I never met either Mandela or Barghouthi personally but after
reading these books, I can say that I agree not only with these adjectives
applied to Mandela and Barghouthi but I can think of many others: humble,
honest, intelligent, articulate, and I can go on but I will leave that to
historians to give people their due.  But knowing such people at least
through their writings and writings of others about them adds to our
conviction that freedom is inevitable to nations that have such individuals.

Here is an excerpt from the book by Mazin B. Qumsiyeh:

Prison struggles: sections from the book”Popular Resistance in
Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment”

In this book I discuss the efforts for release of political prisoners that
started in the 1920s when the women movement in Palestine succeeded in
gaining release of three prisoners (Chapter 6). In chapter 7, we find that
“On 17 May 1936, prisoners in Nur Shams prison declared a strike and
confronted the prison guards who ordered soldiers to open fire. One inmate
was killed and several wounded as prisoners shouted in defiance: ‘Martyrdom
is better than jail’.(ref) On 23 May 1936, Awni Abdel Hadi, secretary
general of the Arab Higher Committee, was arrested.(ref).. On 9 September
1939, fighters took over Beersheba government facilities and released
political prisoners from the central jail.”

When the British government felt more confident in 1942-43 about the
prospects of winning the war, it released some Palestinian political
prisoners and allowed others to return from exile. Attempts to revive
political activity during this period were nugatory. Awni Abdel Hadi
returned from exile in 1943 and revived Hizb Al-Istiqlal, with help from
Rashid Alhaj Ibrahim and Ahmed Hilmi Abdel Baqi, and even started a national
fund.”

In other section sof the book, I discussed the struggle of Palestinains
inside the Green Line, many of them ended in jail as political prisoners.
Like Palestinains in the West Bank and Gaza, they supported their political
prisonesr and struggled for their release. The struggle in the occupied
territories continued. When Israel introduced extensions of so-called
‘administrative detention’ (detention without trial) for up to six months, a
strike among Palestinian political prisoners started 11 July 1975.

Political prisoners in Israeli jails also organised themselves into
effective committees [during the uprising of 1987] which carried out
collective strikes which were especially effective in the 1980s and early
1990s.36 King interviewed Qaddourah Faris (from Fatah) who was a key leader
of the prisoner movement. He talked about a successful hunger strike for
humane treatment that involved 15,000 prisoners throughout Israeli
jails.(ref) In 1990, Israel held over 14,000 Palestinian prisoners in more
than 100 jails and detention centres at one time according to Middle Rights
Watch.(ref) Even Israeli supporters like Anthony Lewis became outraged
enough to write:

“The Israeli Government has taken thousands of Palestinians from the
occupied West Bank and Gaza into what it calls ‘administrative detention.’
That means they are held as prisoners, for up to six months at a stretch,
without trial. At least 2,500 of the detainees are imprisoned in Ketziot, a
tent camp in the burning heat of the Negev desert. On Aug. 16 Israeli
soldiers shot and killed two of-the detainees there . The story had further
grim details that I shall omit because they cannot be confirmed … The
prisoners at Ketziot, it must be emphasised, have not been convicted of
doing anything. They have had not a semblance of due process. They are there
because someone in the Israeli Army suspects them – or wants to punish them.
Mr. Posner went to Ketziot to see two Palestinian lawyers being held there
and four field investigators for a West Bank human rights group, Al Haq. He
concluded that they had been detained because of ‘their work on human rights
and as lawyers.”(ref)

On 6 December 1998, during President Clinton’s visit, over 2,000 political
prisoners went on hunger strike demanding to be released. Their message to
both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership was not to negotiate issues that
do not place their release on the agenda.

In September 1988, the Israeli army stated that the number of detainees it
held was 23,600 and Peter Kandela reported cases of the use of torture on
detainees.94 After the Oslo Accords many thousands of Palestinians were
released. But many thousands more were imprisoned in the uprising that
started in 2000. In total, over 700,000 Palestinians spent time in Israeli
jails. On occasion, nearly 20 per cent of the political prisoners were
minors.95

Political prisoners in Israeli jails also participated in non-violent
resistance. Israel radio reported on a hunger strike by prisoners in the
camps of Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus, who demanded improvement in their
deplorable conditions in 1987.96 Al-Ansar prison in southern Lebanon, where
thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese political prisoners were held by
Israeli occupation forces, showed incredible acts of resistance and
resilience, ranging from hunger strikes to refusal to obey orders to
writing.97

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners went on a hunger strike from 15 August to
2 September 2004. During this time, the Israeli authorities tried various
methods from persuasion to threats to beatings to break the strike; 13 UN
agencies operating in the occupied areas expressed their concern.98

Outside the prisons, Palestinians and internationals protested and worked
diligently to spread the word about the prisoners’ demands and their plight.
It started with the prisoners’ families, many of whom joined the hunger
strike. Crowds assembled on 16 August 2004 outside local offices of the Red
Cross and marched to the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations where they
delivered a letter addressed to Secretary General Kofi Annan, calling for
him to apply pressure on Israel and improve the prisoners’ conditions. They
demonstrated again in the thousands two days later.99 The PA, Palestinians
inside the Green Line and the ISM called for hunger strikes outside the
prisons to support the prisoners’ demands.100 The strike slowly gained
momentum despite repressive measures.101 Israel’s Public Security Minister
Tzahi Hanegbi stated: ‘Israel will not give in to their demands. They can
starve for a day, a month, even starve to death, as far as I am
concerned’102 Eventually, the prison authorities conceded that the prisoners
were entitled to some basic humanitarian rights.

Palestinian female political prisoners in Telmud Prison were mistreated and
on 28 November 2004 their spokeswomen who complained about this was beaten
and punished. When others complained, they too were punished, so they too
went on hunger strike.103

Prisoners continued to use hunger strikes to protest against ill treatment
and draw attention to their plight. For example, on 16 February 2006, Jamal
Al-Sarahin died in prison. He was a 37-year-old ‘administrative detainee’
(held without charge or trial) who had been detained for eight months and
badly mistreated. Prisoners called a one-day hunger strike.104

On 11 March 2006, a sit-down strike in front of the ICRC in Hebron was held
to demand better treatment of prisoners. On 27 June 2006, 1,200 Palestinian
political prisoners in the Negev Desert started a hunger strike to protest
against the arbitrary and oppressive practices of the prison administration.
In total, over 700,000 Palestinians have spent time in Israeli jails and the
latest statistics show that 11,000 are still being held according to the
Palestinian Prisoners Society.105

By 2009, Palestinians in Israeli prisons had achieved a number of successes
by non-violent struggle and civil disobedience, including wearing civilian
clothes (no orange uniforms), access to news, reasonable visiting rights and
better access to healthcare. But the Prison Administration continues to chip
away at those rights.106 Unfortunately, the PA is forced to subsidise the
cost to Israel of maintaining Palestinian prisoners.

Because so many people are jailed for their resistance activities,
Palestinian society has a profound respect and appreciation for the
sacrifices of the prisoners. Time spent in prison is considered a badge of
honour. Prisons also shape character. One former prisoner stated:

Like any human community, there are contradictions, but there is a common
thread in the experience in prison that gives us strength, a common goal, a
common purpose. We are joined together in struggle, so our shared
experiences only make us stronger.107

(Excerpts from the book: “Popular Resistance in Palestine” by Mazin
Qumsiyeh, Pluto Press, Available in Arabic from Muwatin, Ramallah).

 
tags: Israel/Palestine   
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3 Responses to Gilad Shalit and the Palestinian Prisoner Exchange–Israeli and Palestinian analyses

  1. Saed October 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

    “There are thousands more still in prison in Israel. Few have received trial by a jury of their peers.”

    For one thing, there’s no jury system in Israel / palestine. Besides, most palestinian prisoners have received trial. Check your facts before publishing your rants, dear editor.

  2. John November 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

    In addition, even if sanctions are imposed, we all know that Palestine will not follow them. They never abide by the rules– just look at the recent rocket attacks on INNOCENT civilians. The views are all one-sided as the media tends to ignore rocket fire, but if Israel attacks Palestine and kills terrorists in retaliation, it is all over the news. The fact that news organizations portray Israel as the occupier is wrong, esp since Israel is just defending itself. If the Southern Israeli towns retaliated with their own rocket fire, Israel would be criticized from all angles, yet no one seems to really criticize the Palestinians for their malicious attacks on the innocent. A double standard has to be established before demands from either side can be made.

  3. don November 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Shalit was capture. He never had a trial, he nver received visters including the Red Cross. He was kept in isolation. From what I understand from a prison guard my family knows, the Palestinian prisoners had access to visiters, healthy meals, held religious and political meetings and had access to the internet. Thoses who were released were triednd convicted of assisting in suicide bombings or murdering Isreali prisoners with thweir own hands. Thye do not deny theior actions, In fact they are proud of them. These arenot political prisoners,.

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