Palestinian hopes for freedom still alive 10 years after Shalit deal

Photo showing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 27, 2006 [David Silverman/Getty Images]
Photo showing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 27, 2006 

To embrace freedom after being sentenced to life in prison is an unbelievable miracle. This is what happened to Palestinian ex-prisoner Ahmed Al-Falit, Anadolu Agency reports.

Having already served 20 years in Israeli prison as part of his life sentence, Al-Falit was released 10 years ago, following a prisoner swap deal between Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, and Israel.

On 18 October 2011, Israel freed 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in an Egypt-mediated deal, aiming to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006.

Upon his release, Al-Falit established Nafha Centre for Prisoners Studies and Israeli Affairs in the blockaded Gaza Strip, a dream he developed during his time in prison, which he was able to realise following his release.

Miracles happen

Al-Falit, 49, said he was sure of an imminent miracle that will see him and his fellow inmates released from prison.

“We kept clinging to our hopes despite being in prison,” the ex-prisoner told Anadolu Agency. “The evidence to that is that we were continuing with our bachelor’s and master’s degrees in preparation for life after prison even though we were sentenced to life.”

Al-Falit earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Hebrew University, while he was serving his sentence.

READ: Israeli prisoners are the Qassam Brigades’ intelligence treasure

He said he started dreaming of freedom when news of the capture of Shalit on June 25, 2006, by Hamas fighters reached him.

“On that day, I woke up to the voice of my friend in prison calling me, saying: ‘The Gazans kidnapped an Israeli soldier’,” Al-Falit recalled vividly.

Alongside his fellow inmates, Al-Falit anxiously began following up on news, in the hope of a prisoner swap deal that was realised five years later.

Bittersweet moments

After a long-awaited list of to-be-released prisoners was out, Al-Falit experienced bittersweet feelings.

He was happy hundreds would see freedom, but was also sad for thousands of others who would remain behind bars as they were not included in the deal.

Palestinian prisoners escape from high-security prison - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Palestinian prisoners escape from high-security prison – Cartoon

Through a smuggled phone, Al-Falit was informed three days before the deal was implemented of those set to be released.

He became disheartened and unable to inform those not included in the deal.

But the message eventually reached all prisoners. A moment of silence engulfed the prison until a Jordanian prisoner sentenced to life broke it.

“The Jordanian prisoner congratulated the released prisoners, and comforted those remaining in prisons,” Al-Falit said.

Hope remains

Al-Falit is hopeful that a new swap deal will be reached soon that will see “the rest of the prisoners enjoy the taste of freedom.”

A good case for other prisoners to believe in this hope is the story of Imad Al-Din al-Saftawi.

Now 57-year-old, al-Saftawi was not among those included in the Shalit deal but was released in 2019 after completing his 20-year prison term.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, al-Saftawi said those still in detention “have a great conviction that the time for release is nearing.”

He said a prisoner “cannot afford to have his hope for release disappear or fade” as this will mean his “destruction”. “That is what the Israeli occupier wants,” he warned.

Recalling the moments when the Shalit deal was implemented, Al-Saftwai said he was heavy-hearted not to be on the list of those released.

OPINION: Ten years after the exchange deal, the Israeli shock has not allayed

“For those of us who remained jailed, we were happy for our brothers who were set to be released. While sadness grew in our hearts like a tree, we did not want to spoil their joy of freedom,” he said.

“The prisoners realise that there is no escape from prison except through a deal or the collapse of the entity (Israel).”

He noted that the prisoners are pinning their hopes on another swap deal to be struck between Hamas and Israel so that they embrace freedom.

Hamas has captured two Israeli soldiers following the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza. Two other Israelis are believed to have been held by the Palestinian group after they entered Gaza under unclear circumstances.

The group hopes to swap the Israeli captives for 4,500 Palestinians languishing in Israeli prisons.

Israeli concerns

The Shalit deal was a huge success for Palestinians. A number of those released went on to secure leadership, administrative or developmental positions, inside and outside Palestine.

Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, is one notable example.

Mustafa Ibrahim, a political analyst, told Anadolu Agency that Israel is worried about any prisoner swap deal with Hamas.

“The freed prisoners’ attaining of great leadership positions has become a source of concern for Israel,” Ibrahim said.

“Israel realises that prisons have turned into schools where the Palestinian captives play an important role in the struggle against the occupier.”

According to Ibrahim, Israel is now trying to avoid completing any new prisoner exchange deal so as not to repeat the Shalit deal mistake as well as for fear of angering its right-wing supporters.

Recently, Hamas revealed that its mediators are ready for talks with Israel on a prisoner swap but said it did not receive a positive response.

READ: ‘That’s not his voice’, mother of Israel prisoner of war held in Gaza say after recording released

(Source / 19.10.2021)

19 Palestinian journalists in Israel jails

Palestinian writer Ahmed Qatamesh [Al Mayadeen Channel/Youtube]
Palestinian writer Ahmed Qatamesh 

Israeli occupation forces yesterday detained Al Mayadeen Channel, 69, in the occupied West Bank, raising the number of Palestinian journalists and writers inside the occupation’s jails to 19, the Journalists Support Committee (JSC) said.

The JSC said in a statement that Israeli occupation forces raided Qatamesh’s house in the West Bank city of Al-Bireh and detained him.

There are currently 14 reporters, correspondents, producers, photographers and cameramen held in Israel’s jails in addition to five writers and thinkers, the JSC said.

Qatamesh, the JSC said, had been detained several times in the past and has spent a total of 14years inside the occupation’s jails.

“Israel continues hunting Palestinian journalists, writers, academics, thinkers and media teams on the grounds of the work they do in addition to their opinion posted on social media,” the JSC said.

It called on the international community and international rights groups to put pressure on the Israeli occupation in order to release the Palestinian journalists and respect Palestinians’freedom of speech and expression.

Report: 26 Israeli violations against journalists in September

(Source / 19.10.2021)

Abbas reiterates importance of ‘real confrontation’ of Israel

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, speaks in a prerecorded video during the United Nations General Assembly via live stream in New York, US., on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 [Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, speaks in a prerecorded video during the United Nations General Assembly via live stream in New York, US., on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

Palestinian Authority (PA), PLO and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday reiterated the importance of a “real confrontation” with the Israeli occupation, Palestinian media reported.

In a meeting for the PLO’s Executive Committee in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas stressed the importance of “accelerating the rearrangement of the internal Palestinian situation to reinforce the power of the PA institutions and PLO’s unity ahead of ending the internal division.”

He also said that “it is important to put an end to attempts to disunite the Palestinians and doubt the Palestinian national programme ratified by the Palestinian National Council.”

The meeting discussed the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the repeated settler attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque, the razing of graves at the Islamic Al Yusifiyeh Cemetery and the installation of an elevator at the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron to facilitate Jewish settler raids.

READ: The PA is recycling its options

(Source / 19.10.2021)

PA calls on UN to monitor Israeli settler attacks

Jewish settlers attack Palestinians with wooden sticks and stones during European countries ambassadors visit to the district, at Susiya village in Hebron, West Bank on September 24, 2021. [Mamoun Wazwaz - Anadolu Agency]
Jewish settlers attack Palestinians with wooden sticks and stones during European countries ambassadors visit to the district, at Susiya village in Hebron, West Bank on September 24, 2021

The Palestinian Authority has called on the UN to send officials to monitor attacks by Israeli Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Wafa news agency reported on Monday.

“Terrorism by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who are currently harvesting their olive crops will not frighten the farmers because they are the true owners of the land,” insisted PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. He called on the UN to establish a database of settlers involved in these acts of terrorism in order to prosecute them.

Shtayyeh added that Israel has built a bus station for illegal settlers near the West Bank city of Nablus. “It has been built on Palestinian land. This is another step in the theft of this land in violation of international law.” He said that the world’s response to Israel’s illegal settlement project, which is intensifying on a daily basis, must be the formal and full recognition of the State of Palestine.

In conclusion, the prime minister pointed out that, “Israel is the only state which violates the rights of the living as well as the dead.” This was a reference to Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes and destruction of graves in Al-Yusufiya Cemetery in Jerusalem.

Oppression and racism: The main determinants of Jewish immigration

(Source / 19.10.2021)

Including journalists, Israel Soldiers Abduct Sixteen Palestinians In Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday evening, sixteen Palestinians, and assaulted dozens, including two journalists, in Bab al-Amoud area, in the occupied capital, Jerusalem, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center In Silwan (Silwanic) has reported.

Silwanic said dozens of soldiers and police officers chased, detained, and assaulted many Palestinians, including children, before abducting one journalist, identified as Ahmad Abu Sbeih.

Silwanic also stated that the soldiers assaulted a female journalist, identified as Nisreen Salem, along with her sister Sajda and their mother, causing various cuts and bruises, before abducting Nisreen.

The soldiers also assaulted dozens of residents, and fired concussion grenades and gas bombs at them, causing many injuries, before abducting many of them.

Fifteen of the abducted Palestinians have been identified as:

  1. Anan Hammour.
  2. Ribhi Ashraf Kafra’ani.
  3. Mohammad Wajeeh Abu Daoud.
  4. Yasser Qerrish.
  5. Mohammad Jamjoum.
  6. Ahmad Siyam.
  7. Hussein Issa.
  8. Tamer al-Mohtaseb.
  9. Sajeda Salem.
  10. Nisreen Salem (Journalist).
  11. Ahmad Abu Sbeih (Journalist).
  12. Sultan Sarhan.
  13. Islam Rajabi.
  14. Luay Rajabi.
  15. Sufian Natsha.
  16. Unknown (was abducted while trying to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque).

(Source / 19.10.2021)

Army Demolishes Another Home Near Hebron

Israeli soldiers demolished, on Monday evening, a Palestinian home in the western area of Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank; earlier Monday, the soldiers also demolished an under-construction home southwest of Hebron.

Media sources said several army jeeps, accompanied by bulldozers, invaded the Farsh al-Hawa area, west of Hebron city, and demolished the recently constructed home, its surrounding walls, and a well, owned by a lawyer, identified as Eyad Amro.

The Israeli army claimed the two-story home, its surrounding walls, and the well were all built without a permit from the “Civil Administration Office,” of the Israeli military occupation.

The sources added that the family recently built the property, and just finished furnishing it before the army demolished it.

On Monday morning, the soldiers demolished an under-construction home in the Sika village, southwest of Hebron.

(Source / 19.10.2021)

Army Injures Several Palestinians Near Jenin

Israeli soldiers injured, on Monday evening, many Palestinians at the Arraba town junction, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

Local sources said dozens of Palestinians gathered at the junction, protesting the escalating Israeli violations, before the soldiers invaded the area, and started firing live rounds, gas bombs, and concussion grenades at them.

Many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, in addition to cuts and bruises; the army also chased many residents while trying to abduct them.

Furthermore, the soldiers invaded various areas near Ya’bad town, southwest of Jenin, and forced the Palestinians away.

(Source / 19.10.2021)

Israel Revokes ID Of Jerusalemite Palestinian-French Former Political Prisoner

The Israeli government, its “Justice Ministry” and “Interior Ministry” have approved the revocation of the Jerusalem residency and ID card of a native Jerusalemite Palestinian lawyer, who is also a French citizen and a former political prisoner.

Amjad Abu Assab, the head of the Jerusalem Detainees’ Committee, said that the “Legal Advisor” of Israel’s “Justice Ministry,” has approved the revocation of the ID card of Salah al-Hammouri.

He denounced the decision and said is yet another Israeli attempt to force the Palestinians out of their city.

Abu Assab added that, in late July of this year, 2021, the Israeli Interior Minister, Ayelet Shaked, said that she supports and approved of a decision that would revoke al-Hammouri’s ID card and residency and that she was only awaiting the approval of the Justice Ministry.

It is worth mentioning that al-Hammouri is a former political prisoner who was held by Israel for more many years during several arrests starting in the year 2001 when he was imprisoned for five months, and additional four months in the year 2004, under the illegal Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial, and was abducted again in 2005 and was imprisoned for seven years.

He was abducted again in the year 2017 and was imprisoned for 13 months, and upon his release, he received an order barring him from entering the West Bank for two years.

Several years ago, Israel detained al-Hammouri’s seven month pregnant French wife, for three days, after she landed at the airport in Tel Aviv and deported her back to France.

Salah was also frequently denied access to the West Bank, and was denied the right to travel out of Palestine to meet with his wife and son, under the allegation that he “poses a threat to Israel’s national security.”

Even though Salah is also a French citizen, not only he is unable to travel to France but has also been denied family reunification with his wife and child.

(Source / 19.10.2021)

Mezan: Israeli Minister Of Interior To Officially Revoke Permanent Ressidency Of Lawyer Salah Hammouri

Press Release: Al-Mezan Center For Human RightsEarlier this morning, the Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked officially notified 36-year-old Palestinian-French human rights defender Salah Hammouri of the revocation of his permanent residency status in Jerusalem based on a “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel.” 

This decision comes after being approved by the Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and Minister of Justice Gideon Sa’ar. The initiation of his residency revocation and forced deportation, pursuant to Amendment No. 30 to the Entry into Israel Law of 1952, comes on the heels of the Israeli apartheid regime’s targeted harassment campaign against Salah Hammouri, a vocal Palestinian human rights advocate, long-time employee at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, and the former prisoner.

In communicating the decision to move forward with residency revocation on the basis of “breach of allegiance,” the Minister of Interior cites intentionally vague and broad allegations of “terroristic activities” and/or affiliation with “terrorist entities,” based on withheld “secret information” withheld. 

The withholding of “secret information” mirrors the Israeli occupation’s administrative detention practices, in stark violation of fair trial standards, which place Palestinians under indefinite detention based on secret material that cannot be disclosed to the detainees or their lawyers.

To this end, she further cites recommendations based on his past history of arrests—most of which were under administrative detention, without charge or trial. Notably, the Ministry explicitly alludes to the notable escalation of permanent residency revocation of Palestinian Jerusalemites for “breach of allegiance,” as exemplified by the case of Salah Hammouri, by stating that the decision was necessary “to deter others from breaching allegiance to the State of Israel.”

As a Palestinian human rights defender who challenges Israel’s widespread and systematic human rights violations and voices legitimate calls for justice and accountability, Salah has endured constant Israeli attempts to intimidate him and his family, including previous arbitrary arrests, banning from entering the West Bank for almost 16 months, and the deportation of his wife, Elsa Lefort, a French national, separating him from his wife and son in 2016.

Previously, on 3 September 2020, the Israeli occupying authorities notified  Salah Hammouri of the Ministry’s intention to revoke his permanent residency status for so-called “breach of allegiance” to the State of Israel. Notably, Salah and his legal counsel, HaMoked Center for the Defence of the Individual and Advocate Lea Tsemeel, submitted written and oral claims challenging the decision.

Alarmed by the imminent threat of having his residency revoked, which denies Salah’s basic human rights to family life, freedom of movement and residence, including the right to leave and to return to his country, freedom of expression, as enshrined in Article 19 of the ICCPR and freedom of peaceful assembly and association, in line with Articles 21 and 22 of the ICCPR.[1]

Residency policies embedded in Israel’s regime of racial domination and oppression are designed to maintain a perilous legal status for Palestinians in East Jerusalem and uphold an Israeli-Jewish demographic majority in the city.

Israel’s policy of revoking Palestinian residency rights in East Jerusalem further violates Article 43 of the Hague Regulations and Article 64 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that the Occupying Power may not act as a sovereign legislator or extend its own legislation over the occupied territory.[2] Moreover, the criterion of allegiance to Israel is illegal. In fact, international humanitarian law explicitly forbids the Occupying Power from demanding allegiance from the occupied population, as stated in Article 45 Hague Regulations and Article 68(3) of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

[3] Furthermore, the transfer of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem is considered a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.[4] The revocation of residency policy forms part of a widespread and systematic transfer policy directed against a civilian population., which may also amount to a crime against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.[5]

END

[1] Articles 19, 21, and 22, ICCPR.

[2] Hague Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and Its Annex: Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land (adopted 18 October 1907, entry into force 26 January 1910) (henceforth the “Hague Regulations”) Article 43, Hague Regulations, and Article 64, Fourth Geneva Convention.

[3] Article 45, Hague Regulations, and Article 68(3), Fourth Geneva Convention.

[4] Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (adopted 17 July 1998, entry into force 1 July 2002) 2187 UNTS 3. (henceforth “Rome Statute”)

[5] Article 7, Rome Statute

(Source / 19.10.2021)

Soldiers Abduct A Palestinian Man near Ramallah

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, a Palestinian man in Rantis village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

At least five armored military vehicles invaded the village before more than twenty soldiers surrounded the home of Ibrahim Khalaf and tried to smash the front door, but he opened it and the soldiers broke into the property and ransacked it.

The soldiers ordered Ibrahim to hand them his ID card, and when they realized he is not the man they are looking for, they left the property and invaded the home of his brother Fakher ‘Aahed Ibrahim Khalaf, and ransacked the property before abducting him.

It is worth mentioning that Fakher Khalaf, 35, is a married father of three children.

(Source / 19.10.2021)