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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail