Prisoners arrive in Syria 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Forty-one of the 477 Palestinian prisoners released Tuesday were exiled to
foreign countries. Syria accepted the most deportees – 16 – followed by Qatar
with 15 and Turkey with 10.
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Among the last group was Amna Muna, the
so-called “Internet murderer” serving a life sentence for luring an Israeli
teenager to his death via an Internet chat room in 2001. Most of the other
deported prisoners were not identified.
Damascus’s state-run SANA news
agency quoted one released prisoner, Ahmad Hanini as saying, “I’m proud to be in
Syria because Syria is the throbbing heart of Arabism...
Palestine are one country.
“I chose to come to Syria because it supports
the resistance,” he said. “When I’m in Syria, I feel my return to Palestine is
It is unlikely Hanini was offered a choice of destination – by all
accounts prisoners were sent to third countries according to Egyptian-brokered
agreements between Israel and Hamas.
Ahmed Jibril, head of the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, told SANA, “The Israeli
occupation understands only the concept of power and the negotiations with it
never resulted in releasing any prisoner.”
Jibril, also based in
Damascus, “stressed the role of Syria in embracing the Palestinian resistance,
highlighting that this operation wouldn’t have been accomplished without Syria,”
the agency reported.
Jibril is the terrorist leader who lent his name to
a controversial, precedent-setting 1985 prisoner exchange that saw Israel
release 1,150 security prisoners in return for three Israeli soldiers captured
three years earlier in the First Lebanon War.
Another 15 Palestinians
arrived Tuesday in Qatar, where they were greeted by Qatar’s deputy prime
minister Ahmad Abdullah Mahmoud.
The Gulf state that has long pursued
close ties with Hamas, allowing the group to maintain offices and raise funds in
the emirate, regularly hosts its officials.
Western governments and
analysts have denounced Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite network for what they
describe as the Arabic channel’s consistent pro-Hamas
Meanwhile, 11 prisoners – Amna Muna and 10 male prisoners –
landed in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
Muna was originally slated to be
exiled to Gaza, but on Tuesday refused to enter the coastal strip. The
34-year-old, who does not wear a veil and wears Western clothes, said she would
not “fit in” in the Islamist-controlled territory. A last-minute arrangement was
made to deport her to Turkey.
In Ankara the prisoners were met by
Palestinian Ambassador to Ankara Nabil Maarouf and Turkish Foreign Ministry
Palestinian Economy Minister Hasan Abu-Libdeh told Turkey’s
Hurriyet Daily News Palestinians thank the Turkish people and government for
Ankara’s constant support.
His Turkish counterpart Zafer Caglayan said
Ankara’s support to the Palestinians would continue until the end of Israel’s
embargo on Gaza.
“The exchange rate on the Arab-Israeli prisoner market
is changing in favor of the Arab currency,” Turkish columnist Burak Bekdil wrote
Wednesday in Hurriyet. Bekil noted that while the Jibril agreement saw the
return of three Israeli soldiers in exchange for 1,150 prisoners – a rate of
roughly 1 to 383 – the latest swap has seen that ratio drop to less than 1 to
Writing in Abu Dhabi’s English-language Gulf News, Faisal al-Qasim
wrote, “It is not a secret at all that the value of an Arab person in the
stock-exchange of Arab regimes is sort of nil... Have you ever seen an Arab
regime trying to get its captives out of Israeli prisons? Forget about it. Most
Arab regimes have no problem at all letting their nationals die in Israeli