Sunday, March 29, 2009

PA: Israel attempting to deport six prisoners

Date: 29 / 03 / 2009 Time: 19:46

Nablus – Ma’an – Israel plans to deport six Palestinian political prisoners when they finish their sentences, the Palestinian minister of prisoners affairs said on Sunday.

Minister of Prisoners Affairs Ashraf Al-Ajrami told Ma’an that the six are currently held in the prison in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza. Some of them have already completed their sentences but have not been released yet.

According to Al-Ajrami, Israel has not found a country, Arab or otherwise, that is willing to accept the men, all of whom hold Palestinian Authority (PA) ID papers. He said the PA is negotiating with Israel in an attempt to stop the deportation.

Ma’an obtained the names of the prisoners who are facing deportation. They are:

1. Saleh Sawarka
2. Nassri Atwan
3. Mohammad Abu Zweid
4. Samer Hamed
5. Marwan Faraj
6. Ahmad Zeidat

Meanwhile, the prisoners managed to send a statement to the ministry urging them to intervene in their case, especially since they are being held beyond the end of their terms.

They also said that the prison administration has forced them to wear orange jumpsuits, preventing their families from providing clothes for them. The administration also prevented their children from visiting.

The deportation threat comes the same day that the Israeli cabinet decided to strip Palestinian prisoners of certain rights in order to increase pressure on Hamas to agree to a prisoner exchange for a captured Israeli soldier in Gaza. According to the decision, prisoners will face restricted family visits, and will be denied access to education and Arabic-language television, among other services.

The negotiations over the release of soldier Gilad Shalit in a prisoner swap broke down when Hamas refused to accept Israel’s demand to deport certain prisoners instead of releasing them to their homes in the West Bank and Gaza, while refusing to release other key prisoners.