Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Five years on: The Wafa al-Ahrar agreement and prisoner exchange

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – October 19, 2016

On 18 October 2011, 477 Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli occupation prisons in the Wafa al-Ahrar (“Dedication to the Free”) prisoner exchange with the Israeli occupation. One week prior, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were engaged in an open-ended hunger strike against the solitary confinement and isolation of Palestinian leaders, especially Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The strike was suddenly interrupted with stunning news: a prisoner exchange agreement had been released between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli occupation, for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of captured occupation soldier Gilad Shalit. The exchange was completed with the release of 550 fellow Palestinian prisoners in December 2011. In the agreement, among the first set of 477 prisoners released, 131 were released to Gaza and 110 to the West Bank, as well as six Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship returning to Palestine ’48. 203 more were deported from Palestine. This group were the prisoners with lengthy sentences.

This was, of course, not the first time that the Palestinian resistance secured the release of Palestinian prisoners through prisoner exchanges. Throughout Palestinian history, large numbers of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails with lengthy sentences have found freedom in prisoner exchanges negotiated by Palestinian resistance organizations.

Since the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar exchange, dozens of released prisoners have been re-arrested, many with their original sentences reimposed. 57 former prisoners have been re-imprisoned by the Israeli occupation, out of 74 who have been arrested; 50 prisoners have had their original sentences re-imposed on allegations of “violating their terms of release” through “association or support for” prohibited organizations, including all major Palestinian political parties. Three more re-arrested prisoners are serving sentences lower than their original sentences, including Nael Barghouthi (30 months), Nayef Shawamreh (4 years), and Bassam Natsheh (3 years). Israeli Military Order 1651 allows the re-imprisonment of former Palestinian prisoners on prior charges for arbitrary re-arrests, on the basis of secret evidence.

Palestinian prisoners re-arrested include Samer Issawi, who was previously re-arrested and freed after a 265-day partial hunger strike and then re-arrested once more in the raids in June and July 2014 alongside the Israeli assault on Gaza; Samer Mahroum, originally a co-defendant of Omar Nayef Zayed; and Nasser Abed Rabbo, a Jersualemite ex-prisoner prevented from seeing his newborn son by the re-arrest.

Historical precedents for the release of prisoners through resistance actions have been noted on multiple occasions, including exchanges between the Israeli state and Arab states, Hezbollah, the Palestine Liberation Organization and other Palestinian resistance organizations.

On 23 July 1968, the first exchange was successfully completed between the Palestinian revolution and the Israeli occupation. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked a plane from Rome to Tel Aviv, releasing the passengers in exchange for 37 Palestinian prisoners, some with high sentences imprisoned before 1967.

On 28 February 1971, Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi was exchanged for an Israeli soldier in an exchange agreement between Fateh and the Israeli occupation.

On 14 March 1979, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command conducted an exchange agreement with the Israeli occupation for the release of 76 Palestinian prisoners, including 12 women prisoners.

In 1980, Palestinian prisoner Mehdi Bseiso was released in exchange for a collaborator captured by the Fateh movement.

On 23 November 1983, 4560 Palestinian detained Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in southern Lebanon, including 65 Palestinian women prisoners were exchanged for six Israeli occupation soldiers arrested in southern Lebanon, in an exchange with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

In June 1984, 291 Syrians imprisoned by the Israeli state and 72 Syrians’ remains, as well as 20 Palestinian prisoners, were exchanged for six captive Israeli soldiers and five soldiers’ remains in an exchange with Syria.

On 20 May 1985, 1155 Palestinian prisoners were released in an exchange for three Israeli soldiers captured by the PFLP-GC. Many of the Palestinian prisoners released later became leaders in the intifada that arose in 1987.

In September 1997, the Mossad attempted to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan with a poisonous injection. Two Mossad agents were arrested in Jordan and in exchange for those agents, the Israeli state released Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and leader of the Hamas movement, then serving a life sentence in Israeli prisons. (Yassin had been previously released in the 1985 prisoner exchange.)

In January 2004, the Israeli occupation released 436 prisoners, including 400 Palestinians, 23 Lebanese, two Syrians, three Moroccans, three Sudanese, one Libyan and one German prisoner, and returned the remains of 59 soldiers in exchange for the remains of three Israeli occupation soldiers and the release of drug dealer, businessman and potential intelligence agent Elhanan Tannenbaum, in an exchange with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In 2008, Samir Kuntar of the Palestine Liberation Front and four Hezbollah fighters were released in exchange for the remains of two Israeli occupation soldiers in southern Lebnon, in an exchange with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Today, there are four Israelis, including two Israeli soldiers missing in action, held by the Palestinian resistance. The two soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, were captured by the Palestinian resistance during the massive Israeli assault on Palestinians in Gaza in 2014, when over 2,300 Palestinians were killed, tens of thousands wounded, and hundreds of thousands displaced by the massive occupation assault on the besieged Palestinian strip. The Israeli media originally declared them killed in action after a massive bombardment under the so-called “Hannibal directive” mandating the massive bombardment of the Palestinian civilian population in order to kill any captured soldier; however, Shaul’s status has been changed to “missing in action.” Also captured by Palestinian resistance organizations are Avera Mengistu and Hashem al-Sayyed, who entered Gaza without permission.

In total, over 8,000 Palestinian prisoners have been released through exchanges, which is why the capture of Israelis and especially Israeli soldiers or settlers has been such a high priority for the Palestinian resistance in the past and at present. Palestinian resistance organizations, including Hamas, have demanded the release of the 57 re-arrestees of the Wafa al-Ahrar agreement as a condition to begin negotiations for an exchange of the four Israelis they currently hold. Palestinian prisoners’ organizations and human rights groups have been urging the release of the 57 prisoners since their re-arrest, including calling on Egypt, which served as a mediator in the exchange, to pressure the Israeli state for their release as part of its commitments to Egypt as part of the exchange agreement.

The 57 re-arrestees have been identified as follows:

1. Nidal Zaloum
2. Abd El-Men’em Othman To’meh
3. Majdi Atieh Suleiman ‘Ajouli
4. Ayed Khalil
5. Samer El-Mahroum
6. Alaa El-Bazyan
7. Adnan Maragha
8. Nasser Abedrabbo
9. Safwan Oweiwi
10. Rabee’ Barghouthi
11. Suleiman Abu Eid
12. Ibrahim Shalash
13. Ibrahim Al-Masri
14. Zuheir Sakafi
15. Ahmad Al-‘awawdeh
16. Bassam Na’im Al-Natsheh Abu Eid
17. Mahmoud Al-Swaiti
18. Mu’amar Al-Ja’bari
19. Khaled Makhamra
20. Abbas Shabaneh
21. Rasmi Maharik
22. Nayef Shawamreh
23. Na’eem Masalmeh
24. Mu’az Abu Rmouz
25. Amer Moqbel
26. Ashraf Al-Wawi
27. Muhamad Barakat
28. Ya’koub Al-Kilani
29. Aref Fakhouri
30. Waheeb Abu Al-Rob
31. Muhamad Saleh El-Rishek
32. Mu’amar Ghawadra
33. Imad Mussa
34. Abdelrahman Salah
35. Ashraf Abu El-Rob
36. Wael Jalboush
37. Nidal Abdelhaq
38. Taha Al-Shakhsheer
39. Zaher Khatatbeh
40. Hamza Abu Arkoub
41. Mahdi El-Assi
42. Shadi Zayed Odeh
43. Jamal Abu Saleh
44. Ismail Hijazi
45. Rajab Tahan
46. Samer Issawi
47. Khader Radee
48. Imad Fatouni
49. Muhamad Issa Awad
50. Suleiman Abu Seif
51. Ahmad Hamad
52. Khaled Ghizan
53. Ismail Musalam
54. Yousri Joulani
55. Nael Barghouthi
56. Imad Abdul-Rahim
57. Fahd Sharaya

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes the freed prisoners on the fifth anniversary of their liberation, and joins in the call for pressure and action to free the 57 re-arrested prisoners of Wafa al-Ahrar, and for the liberation of all 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

October 19, 2016 - Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s