During the Israeli bombing on Gaza, there was humanitarian pause for a week in which the Palestinian resistance held three different prisoners' swap deal with the Qatar playing a major hostage negotiation role.
The swap entailed a partial deal where Israel freed about 150 women and children in return, the resistances released about 50 women and children. In addition, few dozen Thai hostages were released as a goodwill gesture and who were not part of the deal. There are about 8 US citizens still held in Gaza. All of whom are dual US-Israeli citizens who were members of the IDF, either as active duty or reservists.
Among the several Americans Israeli hostages released on November 26 was the 4-year-old girl Abigail who lost her parents on 10/7. I was happy she was freed. This sweet little girl is the age of one of my granddaughters.
Sadly, there's an estimated 24,000- 25,000 unknown children like Abigail in Gaza who have lost one or both parents. According to the December 7 report by Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, the number of Palestinians killed during the same period was approximately 23,000.
Based on news reports, nearly 20 hostages were killed during the Israel savage bombardment in Gaza. Their remains are still buried under the rubbles along with their captors. Even though Hamas told Israel repeatedly last October that it is ready for "partial swap" deal or "all for all."
In other words, Hamas will release all women and children and in return Israel must release all women and children. All for all deal entails, Israel must release ALL Palestinian prisoners (about 10,000) and in return Hamas will release all remaining hostage (135) who Hamas consider as prisoners of war since they are serving the IOF. For some reason, there is no talk about the release of the remains of either Palestinians or Israelis.
Unable to free any of prisoners held in Gaza and facing public pressure at home for the higher troop's casualties, Israel is suffering in Gaza daily. Netanyahu expressed willingness to hold immediate and indirect talk on swap deals and is willing to halt the bombing campaign for longer period of time.
So, he dispatched the Head of Mossad on a mission to meet with a Qatari official in a secret location in Europe to jump start the negotiation about the prisoners' release. Meanwhile, Hamas in a better bargaining position after the IOF killed 3 of the hostages, said not so quick! Hamas is now upping the ante, by placing new demands before any prisoner is freed. Israel must do the following: 1) Stop the bombing immediately and permanently, 2) withdraw its troops, 3) immediate humanitarian aid to be rushed to north, central, and southern Gaza, 4) rebuilding Gaza, and 5) Lift the 17 years blockade.
Israel's Narrative on Palestinian Prisoners and the ADA
For many years, Netanyahu did distort the truth and twist the facts by telling the world only half of the story. That is about the Israeli prisoners thereby implying there were no Palestinian prisoners lavishing behind bars for many years and he was not eager to hold a POW Exchange with Hamas. That was number one reason for the October 7 attacks.
Many people around the world do not know that Israel is holding 10,000 Palestinians prisoners because Israel and MSM control the narrative. Israeli officials refused to even mention or recognize the fact that 1/2 of 10,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails are being held under Administrative Detention Act (ADA).
ADA is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. It is renewable every 6 months indefinitely and a practice that was not even deployed during the Nazi era.
There are nearly 4,800 new additional Palestinian prisoners who got randomly picked up by IDF during the last 69 days in the West Bank and Gaza. They are simply hostages and are guilty of nothing and the innocent.
Israel's Shattered Promises in Prisoner Deals
An agreement should be respected by both parties from A-Z. However, in the last two prisoners' deals with the Palestinians, Israel reneged on its promise failed to respect any of those agreements.
1- Hana Shalabi is a Palestinian activist who went on a 43-day hunger strike inside an Israeli prison to protest her “administrative detention” and was released from Ramleh Prison Hospital in April 2012 under the condition that she be expelled to the Gaza Strip for a period of "THREE YEARS." During three years, Hana was not allowed to visit her parents and her parents were not allowed to visit her either. Since her "expulsion order expired 8 years ago," Hana has been denied the right to return home.
2- Who can forget the 39 Palestinian prisoners who were exiled to Gaza (26 prisoners) and EU (13 prisoners) after the Israelis’ infamous "siege of the Church of the Nativity" in Bethlehem in 2002. Despite the fact that Israel expelled them for ONLY 10 YEARS, those 39 men are still waiting for the last 13 years to be re-united with their families.
3- Several of the Palestinian-freed prisoners from "Shalit deal" were executed in cold blood by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), including the 2016 shooting of 21-year-old Abdul Fattah al-Sharif who was killed execution-style in the head by IOF soldier without any apparent provocation as he laid disarmed and wounded on the ground in Hebron.
The video was recorded by B'Tselem, an Israeli NGO that documents human rights violations against Palestinians. This week, PM Netanyahu told President Biden that Israel has begun flooding some of the tunnels with seawater and have assured the president they are only doing this in tunnels where they do not believe hostage are being held.
Really? Since Israel has no clue where the hostages are held, how does Israel pick and choose which tunnel to flood? To me, Israeli is playing Russian roulette with the lives of 153 remaining hostages, which includes 8 US citizens.
Having had my late father and my late younger brother Samih both held captives by IOF for 18 months in 1948 and 1982 respectively, I know the fear, agony, and the frustration of the prisoners' families go through on a daily basis. There is nothing more that make the prisoners' families happy and put a smile on their faces than to see their loved ones free again.
Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a Palestinian freelance writer and retired USAF veteran. He could be reached at: [email protected]