Confusion over Palestinian prisoners – Shalit swap deal

Palestinian prisoners -and they are thousands in Israeli jails- started a hunger strike in September27 to express their anger and rejection to the inhumane treatment they have been receiving since the recent instructions by Prime Minister Netanyahu in late June 2011 to strip Palestinian prisoners of claimed “privileges” they “enjoy” in Israeli jails.. For more details: PCHR Condemns Collective Penalties against Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails

Yesterday, I joined Palestinian families of prisoners in their protest in ICRC – Gaza. Many of whom where former prisoners joining in solidarity, members of International Solidarity Movement ISM, and activists who have been hunger striking for 9 days who –overwhelmingly- triggered in me feelings of both shame and embracement when I learned that four of them were hospitalized early that day.
To express their genuine support to prisoners and to rid themselves the feeling of helplessness, Palestinian and international activists and bloggers not only tweeted and blogged to spread the truth but also started a 24-hour #tweepstrike #HS4Palestine ‘Hunger Strike for Palestine’ in October 12 in solidarity and celebration of the fighting spirit of those imprisoned, deprived and abused.

“What about the rest of prisoners who are still hunger striking? Why did not Hamas wait until the prisoners’ demands are met?” a young activist expressed her opinion with a mixture of anger and disappointment. “The prisoners’ protests of today and everyday are represented by all political factions but Hamas. I believe Hamas wanted to be in the picture again even if that meant losing the one and only card they have. Very smart indeed!” she added.

Whether the claims of Hamas’s attempt to hijack the attention off the prisoners’ hunger strike are true or not is irrelevant, all those questions echoing people’s minds are valid ones and one wonders if they will be answered anytime soon.

Another activist whose father is a prisoner added to the list of unanswered questions “Why did Hamas reach this deal now, they had Shalit captured for five years? We are still on hunger strike and the media coverage no longer cares to give attention to those suffering when both Hamas and Israel projected their heroic prisoner-exchange deal to the world!” Although Hamas’s list of prisoners is representative of all Palestinian political parties yet Palestinians seem unhappy that Hamas is taking full credit for the Operation Dispersive Illusion “Hamas never captured Gilad Shalit, Salah Al Deen Brigades did and Hamas got involved in later stages. It wasn’t pleasant to see Hamas celebrating so victoriously and flying solo. All Palestinian factions were marginalized in this and Hamas acted totally on their own.”

Standing there, I could not agree or disagree. There was no room for words, but my wide-open eyes saw whatever hope left in those families’ eyes “ripped off”. Could I let myself rejoice for all those women who will finally be reunited with their beloved family and children who’ve been longing for a warm embrace for too long? For the mothers whose hair had grown grey and whose beauty had faded away cause what meaning has life when heart is departed from soul? Could I rejoice for those fathers whose children had grown to be men without colors, men of grey, smell of sweat, and taste of beans, unsalted beans?!
My mind has told my heart to rejoice, and I promise I will try, but my mind cannot let go of the images stuck in my head, the images of lost faith in the Palestinian leadership, the religious, the patriotic, and the secular. Would we regain trust on those who promised that no deal would be reached with Israel without Ahmad Sa’adat and Marwan Barghouti? Who promised the deal will include at least 1500 prisoners? Would we regain trust in them when their definition of “prisoners’ release” is “exile” overseas and “deportation” to another jail called “Gaza”? Will our leaders (and they are too many) ever reconcile (with themselves) and stop giving us lies and false hope to gain grounds locally, regionally, and internationally (each with their allies that serve their interest)?

I am sharing this with you because today my heart cried, because those in jails taught me freedom, taught me bravery, and integrity. Today I am Palestinian because of you and if Palestine is fragmented, our struggle is not!

A former prisoner playing with her child who was born in Israeli jails-Taken by Bashar Lubbad


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