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

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail