Palestinian Prisoners: Petitioning to Block Their Release
by Stephen Lendman
Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languish in Israel’s gulag. Netanyahu got cabinet approval to release 104. They’ve been held longterm. They’ve been denied justice.
Release is meaningless. It’s shameless. It’s contemptuous of Palestinian rights. It falls short of freedom. They’ll be ruthlessly harassed. They’re denied a moment’s peace.
Many are rearrested. Trumped up charges follow. Doing so assures convictions. Release is short-lived.
At the same time, hundreds of others are arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. Palestinians are systematically denied all rights.
What about thousands unjustly held? Why did Abbas not demand they all be freed? Why did he settle for 104? Doing so mocks justice.
The so-called Almagor Terror Victims Association calls Palestinian political prisoners terrorists. It ignores decades of Israeli crimes.
It circulated a petition saying:
“The Almagor Terror Victims Association periodically draws up petitions, generally to oppose gestures or deals in which terrorists are to be released and sometimes to oppose the transfer of munitions to the Palestinian Authority or regarding other topics.”
“By signing a petition, you express your position on an issue without having to go through the media, which seek comment only from experts or those involved in a matter, and often fail to represent all viewpoints.”
“The number of petitioners is not always the crux of the matter: who signs also is important.”
“In 2009, a Almagor petition signed by 130 people, including former combat soldiers who were injured while hunting down terrorists, the father of a soldier killed while hunting down a terrorist, reservists in combat units, tens of ranking IDF officers, and professors such as Nobel Prize winner Yisrael (Robert) Aumann, called not to release terrorists because it predictably leads to additional murders.”
“The petition was publicized shortly after intellectuals including Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, and Savyon Liebrecht released their own petition demanding that ‘any price’ be paid in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.”
“The Almagor petition shattered the impression that all Israeli intellectuals and moralists advocated freeing an unlimited number of murderers in exchange for one soldier.”
Almagor doesn’t petition for Palestinian rights. It believes only Jews have them.
It ignores longstanding Israeli crimes. It’s silent about occupation harshness. It’s mindless about appalling gulag prison conditions. Perhaps it thinks institutionalized racism’s OK.
It’s petitioning Israel’s High Court. It wants prisoner releases blocked. They’ve been held longterm. Some have been incarcerated over 20 years.
They never should have been in the first place. Israel convicted them by accusation. Justice was systematically denied. It’s standard Israeli practice.
Cabinet ministers agreed on 104 releases. They include 14 Arab citizens. Implementation’s in four stages.
On August 13, an initial 26 will be released. Four months later, a second group will follow. So will others after six and eight months.
Doing so’s at Israel’s discretion. It depends on how peace talks go. It depends on if PA negotiators unconditionally surrender.
It depends on whether Israel keeps its promise. It never did before. Believing this time’s different defies reality.
Almagor calls Palestinians guilty by accusation. Prosecutors asked for an expeditious ruling. It wants it before releases begin.
They’ll be closely monitored. They’ll be ruthlessly harassed. They’ll feel like they’re still imprisoned. What good’s freedom without rights?
If terms of release are violated, they’ll be rearrested and imprisoned. Prosecutors failed to explain on what basis they’ll act.
Releasing Palestinian prisoners was discussed months earlier. Almagor requested information on names, alleged crimes, incarceration dates, and sentence lengths.
Israeli Bureau of Prison authorities supplied it. Before prisoners are released, names will be revealed 48 hours in advance. Families and others will be able to respond.
Israeli hardliners want no one released. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s one of the worst. He spurns Palestinian rights. He rejects Palestinian sovereignty.
“There never was a Palestine,” he says. “Have we gone mad? Israel thrives (fine) without a Palestinian state.”
“In the past we freed a terrorist for a live soldier. Later hundreds of terrorists for one live soldier. Later terrorists for a dead soldier.”
“And now – a hundred terrorists for a process. We are showing the world that, for us, everything is negotiable.”
He calls it wrongheaded. Other hardliners agree.
On August 1, Gideon Levy asked “What’s missing in the Palestinian prisoner discourse?”
Discussion lacks “even a modicum of compassion and humanity,” he said. Family members suffer like their loved ones.
Their rights don’t matter. They’re ignored. Few acts compare with horror of longterm incarceration. Under gulag conditions, it’s appalling.
Palestinian political prisoners are unconscionably demonized. “Dehumanization reaches its peak here,” said Levy.
They’re all guilty by accusation. “(T)hey’re all murderers, monstrous people with blood on their hands.”
“(I)t doesn’t matter what they did and how long they’ve served.” It doesn’t matter if they’re innocent victims.
“The slanderous campaign against the Palestinian prisoners is well aimed: it is meant to remind Israelis that Palestinians aren’t people.”
“When prisoners are in question, it’s very easy to fan the flames of these vile emotions.”
Who’ll dispute what Israeli officials claim? Who’ll address Palestinian rights? Who’ll give them a chance to do so? Who’ll support justice? Who’ll defend the right thing to do?
Professor Mohammed Ayoob addresses Palestinian rights. He calls current negotiations “the road to nowhere.”
He quoted historian Avi Shlaim saying “Netanyahu is like a man who, while negotiating the division of a pizza, continues to eat it.”
He says one thing. He does another. He pays lip service to what he rejects. He prioritizes occupation harshness. Colonization is policy. Build, build, build reflects it.
Kerry bows to Israel’s will. He’s their man at State. Whatever Israel wants it gets. Promises made and broken don’t matter. Apartheid is official Israeli policy.
Political prisoners guilty of wanting to live free fill its gulag. Releases are subject to rearrest. Gaza’s the world’s largest open-air prison. Around 1.7 million Palestinians are held captive.
Who addresses their rights? Who condemns Israeli harshness? Who respects rule of law principles? Who demands Israeli crimes be punished?
Who’ll assure Palestinians a future worth living? According to Ayoob, peace talks “between a discredited Palestinian Authority and a (duplicitous) Israeli government” assures justice will be systematically denied.
It’s a convenient fiction. So are prisoner releases. Promises aren’t worth the paper they’re ordered on. Short-term restricted freedom reflects none at all.
Occupation harshness imprisons all Palestinians. Hardline Israeli groups want more. The Endowment for Middle East Truth and National Council of Young Israel support a proposed congressional letter.
It’s circulating in the House. It seeks signatures. It asks Attorney General Eric Holder to ask Israel to extradite released prisoners.
They’re ones America calls terrorists. It alleges they harmed US citizens. No evidence whatever suggests it.
It doesn’t matter. The Zionist Organization opposes planned releases. So do other extremist elements.
On August 13, Israel plans releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners. Others will follow later. Hardliners want what’s planned blocked. Palestinian rights don’t matter. What Israel says goes.
A Final Comment
On August 7, Addameer lawyer Fares Ziad said Israeli soldiers “savagely” beat a Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad Rimawi. They did so on his 99th day without food.
Two others began hunger striking when he did. Mohammad, Abdullah Barghouthi and Ala’ Hammad continue to deteriorate rapidly.
Who’s advocating for their rights? Who demands their releases? Who cares if they live or die? Who knows how they’re brutalized? Who’s aware how unconscionably they’re treated?
Five Israeli soldiers beat Mohammad. He’s in extremely poor health. He’s lucky he wasn’t killed. Perhaps next time.
Will anyone know? Will anyone care? Will anyone hold prison authorities responsible?
Israeli lawlessness remains unaddressed. It’s always been that way. It’s no different now. That’s the key issue. So-called peace talks ignore it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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