Arabic media reacted to last week’s news of Israel’s 1,000-to- 1 prisoner
exchange with Hamas with almost unanimous celebration.
The main pan-Arab
and national television channels all ran the swap deal prominently with the
exception of Syria’s state-run station, according to the international media
aggregator BBC Monitoring.
Sbarro terror victims petition High Court on Schalit deal
Timeline of the proposed prisoner exchange
Al Jazeera, and its main competitor,
Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya, each covered the deal extensively. Al Jazeera devoted a
large part of its main bulletin to the story, while the Saudi network took a
more pessimistic tone, highlighting Hamas’s failure to secure the release of
Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and high-profile terrorist leaders Ahmed Sa’adat
and Abdullah Barghouti.
Iran’s Arabic-language Al- Alam covered the story
extensively as well, though the Islamic Republic’s Farsi media had surprisingly
little to say on the deal.
Palestinian news outlets, whether linked to
Hamas or Fatah, also praised the deal. Filastin, the Hamas-run newspaper
that is the most read paper in Gaza, ran a giant lead picture Wednesday of
Palestinian children raising their fingers in a victory sign and waving green
Hamas flags. “The resistance wins and breaks the occupation’s handcuffs,” ran
the lead headline.
News outlets affiliated with Fatah also acknowledged
the exchange, though without giving its Hamas rivals as much credit.
Ramallah-based Al- Ayyam carried images of Palestinians injured in an Israeli
army crackdown on a protest in front of Ofer Prison the day before. Protesters
were voicing support for Palestinian prisoners on a two-week hunger strike
demanding better conditions.
In Egypt, a key mediator of the deal, the
Muslim Brotherhood’s website praised the prisoner exchange.
Saad Katatni, secretary-general of the [Brotherhood’s] Freedom and Justice
Party, praised Egypt’s role in the completion of a deal to release Palestinian
prisoners in exchange for the Zionist soldier Schalit,” said the Islamist
group’s English-language homepage Ikhwanweb. “Katatni stressed the need for
continued efforts by the Egyptian authorities to bring about radical solutions
to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and lead to the establishment of
a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
The only criticism of
the deal voiced in the Arab world’s press was that it did not go far
“While this is a welcome development to be celebrated, let us not
rejoice without a measure of caution. For this is not only about Sergeant
Schalit and 1,027 nameless prisoners,” wrote Shawan Jabarin, director of the
Ramallah-based rights group Al-Haq, in an op-ed Friday in The National
English-language daily based in Abu Dhabi.
“It also concerns another
5,000 political prisoners, their families and the continued denial of basic
human rights to Palestinians in Israeli prisons and indeed across the Occupied
Palestinian Territories as a whole.
“For Sergeant Schalit the suffering
is coming to an end, and rightfully so,” he wrote. “For every Palestinian, for
those in detention and those in their homes, their imprisonment continues.”