Palestinians express mixed feelings on prisoner releases

Nadia Zubi from Tulkarm in south West Bank says not enough Fatah members were included in the prisoners list.

By NIDA IBRAHIM
October 18, 2011 03:06
3 minute read.
Palestinian woman on bus [illustrative]

Palestinian on bus 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem )

RAMALLAH – Palestinians expressed mixed emotions about the prisoner swap, on the eve of the release of the first wave of prisoners in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

The families of prisoners due to be released showed happiness. Suhier, wife of Mustafa Badrneh, who is expected to be released tomorrow, said, “We can’t wait for him to be back home after eight years in prison.”

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However, Nadia Zubi, mother of prisoner Hatem Jayoussi from Tulkarm, south of the West Bank, said that Hamas included a few prisoners from other political movements in the swap deal.

Her son, a Fatah member who has served 10 years of his 55-year sentence, is not one of the prisoners expected to be released as part of this swap.

Zubi said that around 50 Fatah members are included in the deal, and a few from other movements, while the majority are from Hamas.

At the Ramallah rally supporting prisoners in their hunger strike today, Naji Abu Hmaid, 53, said the timing of the deal was political.

The released prisoner told a crowd that Hamas was offered this deal twoand- half-years ago, but refused it, and said the timing has a strong indication of Hamas’s intentions.

Abu Hmaid said Hamas wants to sabotage the prisoners’ hunger strike by agreeing on this deal.

“Hamas wants to break the unanimity of the Palestinian decision,” he said.

Many people think that Hamas wants to boost its lessening popularity, implying that Hamas’s deal with Israel comes at a time when the popularity of Abbas is rising after his speech at the UN in September.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Abed Al Rahim Malouh told the crowd not to think of the swap details, asking instead that they be happy that prisoners are being released from Israel. He said this is a time to show solidarity with prisoners holding a hunger strike.

Civil servant Thaer Deek said that the deal holds two dimensions: one is that releasing any prisoner, even one, is considered an achievement; but that exiling them to Gaza or other countries is not very beneficial.

Rawan Hamdi said “we were under the impression that all prisoners serving life or high sentences will be released, but we’re surprised to learn that our relative will not be part of the swap.”

Hamdi’s two brothers are in Israeli prisons.

“There are many shortcomings to the deal,” she added.

Chief of the High Committee on Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs, Amin Shoman, told The Jerusalem Post that people are sensitive during this time.

“There are 5,000 prisoners left, and their families must be emotional,” he said.

The Hamas leader in the West Bank, Hassan Yousef, told the Post that the negotiating team of Hamas tried its best.

“This is the best deal possible. We know we will not satisfy all people, and we will keep struggling to have our rights back,” he said.

Click for full JPost coverage of Gilad Schalit


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