FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Impending Release of Gilad Shalit

by RANNIE AMIRI

The release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, appears imminent. The recent flurry of activity in Cairo of high-profile Israeli and Hamas officials along with their Egyptian and German intermediaries point to a deal taking place in upcoming days, nicely timed to Eid Al-Adha celebrations marking the end of Hajj. Although details remain murky, in exchange for Shalit, approximately 500 Palestinian prisoners would be immediately released and possibly another 500 at a later date.

The most prominent Palestinian rumored to be set free is Marwan Barghouti, the widely popular militant-turned-politician thought to be a potential successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (he is presently serving five life sentences for alleged involvement in the killing of five Israelis in 2002). If a prisoner exchange does take place that includes Barghouti, it would not only boost Hamas’ standing among Palestinians, but certainly upstage Abbas’ rival Fatah faction since Barghouti is also a member (and despite his incarceration, was elected to the Fatah Central Committee this summer).

People may not have heard of Barghouti, but everyone knows Shalit. His picture has been seen, his letters read and a recently released videotape of him viewed. If only the same were true for thousands of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, many of whom are held in “administrative detention”; a form of confinement whereby the government holds anyone it deems to be a “security threat” for an indefinite period of time without charge, trial, or access to evidence. Indeed, Palestinians have hundreds upon hundreds of their own Shalits.

That being said, is the swap of 500 prisoners including Barghouti for Shalit reasonable?

If Hamas’ motive in securing Barghouti’s release is simply meant for political gain – and there is no doubt that he is the prize – with hundreds of others tagging along for good measure, then certainly not.

Hamas should shun political opportunism and instead demand the following:

Grant 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention due process of law or allow for their unconditional release.

 

Halt the uprooting of 500 olive trees. Those familiar with the beauty of the Holy Land – which Israeli settlers seem to abhor for some reason – know it is dotted with olive trees and groves. Many Palestinian villagers make their livelihood from the olive harvest. Yet, Israeli settlers have uprooted olive trees, burned their groves and have even taught their children to show disdain for the harvest.

Allow 500 tons of reconstruction materials and humanitarian aid into Gaza so the tiny, impoverished territory and its people, cut off from the rest of the world for so long, can rebuild their lives in dignity. Nearly one year after the December 2008 Israeli onslaught, a crippling blockade preventing Gazans from rebuilding homes, schools, mosques, police stations, water conduits and other vital infrastructure remains.

Allow 500 Palestinians to leave Gaza to obtain medical care. Currently, only a trickle are allowed out on both the Israeli and Egyptian sides of the border. Since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak often appears more concerned with the welfare of Shalit than the life-threatening injuries sustained by Palestinians in Gaza and its deteriorating medical situation, Hamas should equally make Mubarak a partner to this.

Allow 500 Palestinian children to walk unharrassed and safely to school. As reported by Mel Frykberg of InterPress Service, children face daily assault by settlers while trying to get to class.

As one remarked, “It is really scary walking to school. We never know when the settlers will attack us and beat us.”

As Frykberg writes:

“Settler attacks – including arson attacks on agricultural fields, chopping down olive trees, poisoning water wells, killing livestock and assaulting Palestinian villagers living near settlements – have become a way of life for Palestinians all over the West Bank as the Israeli authorities continue to turn a blind eye.”

Although last minute negotiations are likely revolving around the terms of Barghouti’s release or whether so-and-so will be allowed to return home or be exiled to a third country, these details lose sight of what Hamas should demand: legal rights for Palestinian prisoners; respect for – not desecration of – the land; allowing Gaza’s reconstruction to proceed and its people to obtain medical care, and the guaranteed safety and well-being of Palestinian schoolchildren.

A soldier in exchange for humane and civilized behavior – a pity such a deal even has to be offered. Yet if Hamas does so, it would effectively shift the world’s attention from a soldier of the occupation to the desperate condition of the occupied. A better deal could not be had.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator. He may be reached at: rbamiri AT yahoo DOT com.

 

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and My Late Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy after All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail