Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pending prisoner release

When we landed in Israel yesterday we were greeted with the news that 1000 Palestinian prisoners may be released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured in 2006 by Hamas militants at a border crossing between Gaza and Israel. He has been held since then, without access to Red Cross observers, so it is a good thing that he may be reunited with his family.

.......but (as of August) there are more than 5000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons - most are held in connection with supposed terrorist activities, which can include writing in support of Palestinian nationalism and freedom from occupation. One of these prisoners is Marwan Barghouti, who many Palestinians would like to see as their president - a man Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery has referred to as the "Palestinian Mandela." It is unlikely that Barghouti will be part of the exchange.

Of the 5000 Palestinian prisoners currently in Israeli prisons,
  • 4164 are serving sentences
  • 272 are administrative detainees - held without being charged with a crime, only deemed a "security risk" to the State of Israel
  • most of the other prisoners are in process of being tried
Marwan Barghouti has recently written a book, which Mazin Qumsiyeh reviews on his blog:

So not everything that seems like good news really is....

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