41 Palestinian prisoners exiled to foreign states

Of the 41 prisoners that were deported, 16 went to Syria, 15 to Qatar and 10 to Turkey.

By OREN KESSLER
October 21, 2011 02:42
3 minute read.
Palestinian prisoners swapped for Schalit in Syria

Prisoners arrive in Syria 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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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.

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.

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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...

Syria and 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 near.”

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 coverage.

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 officials.

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 1,000.

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 jails.”

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