GAZA (SaebPress) ….Thousands of Palestinians poured out on to the streets of the Gaza, car horns could be heard all around, celebrating the expected release of hundreds of their freedom fighters from ‘Israeli’ prisons.
There are over 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in ‘Israeli’ jails. They are regarded as heroes in their struggle against ‘Israeli’ occupation of Palestine. The news of the prisoners swap comes while thousands of Palestinian prisoners have been on a hunger strike for about two weeks.
‘Israel’ failed to retrieve its captive solider via so many military operations. The new ‘Shin Bet’ Chief Yoram Cohen, ‘IDF’ Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz and ‘Mossad’ Chief Tamir Pardo, declared recently that they were unable to offer the government a viable plan that would enable ‘Israel’ to extract Shalit successfully from Gaza. They concluded – ‘a prisoner exchange deal was the only way to ensure Shalit’s release’.
Hamas reached a deal with ‘Israel’ on Tuesday for the release 1,027 prisoners in exchange for Shalit, who was captured in 2006 and has since been held in the Gaza Strip, Meshaal said in a televised address.
Ahmed El Jabari, head of Hamas’s military wing, was given the go-ahead by Hama’s Politburo Chief Khaled Mashal to sign the deal in Cairo.
Hamas chief Khaled Mashal described the exchange with’ Israel ‘as a “national achievement” for the Palestinians, more than “1,000 Palestinian prisoners in ‘Israeli’ prisons will be released in exchange for the captured ‘Israeli’ soldier Gilad Shalit” has said.
Meshaal said the detainees, among them 27 women, will be freed in two phases: the first phase will see the release of 450 “in one week” and in the second phase another 550 will be freed “in two months”.
The list of 1,027 includes 315 prisoners who have been sentenced to life, the result of negotiators giving “priority to those who have spent over 20 years” in jail, he said.
“We were very keen for this deal to include prisoners from across different categories, from different age groups and from the West Bank and Gaza, from Jerusalem and the Golan [Heights].”
“We are happy with this great achievement and we thank our God for that. But our happiness is mixed with sorrow because we were not able to gain the freedom of all prisoners,” Meshaal said in a televised address from Damascus. He also stressed that the deal reflected the unity of the Palestinian people, and vowed to fight until “the day all Palestinians imprisoned in ‘Israel’ are freed.
Ahmed Sa’adat and Marwan Barghouti not to be released
Reports suggest that the swapping list might include two high-profile prisoners, Ahmed Sa’adat, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Marwan Barghouti the influential Fatah leader, who has five life sentences in ‘Israel’.
They will not be released as part of the swap deal, Yoram Cohen, the head of ‘Israel’s Shin Bet’ intelligence service, said on Tuesday .
Commenting on the news Dr Saeb Shaath (Middle East Affairs Expert) told reports that without the immediate release of both Ahmed Sa’adat (PFLP leader) and Marwan Barghouti (Fatah leader) I do not see the deal as Mashaal said a “national achievement” .
Shaath added “ Ahmaed Sa’adat a part from his role as the leader of the 2nd largest Palestinian movement in the PLO; he was kidnaped by ‘Israel’ from Jericho and Marwan Barghouti is a paramount figure for Fatah’s continuity and renewal in the struggle against occupation. Releasing both leaders is a vital interest for the Palestinian people”.
Syria endorsed the deal and exerted its influence on Hamas’ leadership in Damascus to show a little flexibility to finalize the swap deal. Meshaal, the Hamas chief, thanked Egypt, as well as Qatar, Turkey, Syria and Germany which he said had all been involved in the negotiations.