Saturday, April 4, 2009

Israeli reprisals fail to blackmail Palestinian resistance (Report)

[Posted on PIC on 04/04/2009 - 10:44 AM ]

The Israeli government was not satisfied with merely scuttling the negotiations to exchange Palestinian prisoners for their captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, which Egypt had been mediating. Nor did it stop at blaming Hamas for the failure of the talks. Rather, it embarked upon a series of steps to take vengeance on Hamas and on the Palestinian prisoners in its jails.

Observers have seen these acts as evidence of the extent of the Zionists’ frustration over their impotence. The occupation forces have failed, despite the passing of 1,000 days since Shalit was captured, in forcing Hamas to compromise on its demand that 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails should be released in exchange for Shalit’s release.

Fresh detentions of representatives and political leaders
On March 19th the Zionist occupation forces mounted extensive pre-dawn raids in the West Bank with the goal of seizing representatives and political leaders, including government ministers, belonging to Hamas in an attempt to step up the pressure on Hamas to close the file of Gilad Shalit.

Among those seized in the raids
• From Nablus: Dr. Nasser al-Shaer, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education in the 10th Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haneyya; also: Sheikh Adnan Asfoor, one of Hamas’s political leaders, and physics professor Dr. Isam al-Ashqar.
• From Ramallah: two members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ayman al-Daraghimah and Abdul-Jabbar Fuqaha; Mazen al-Rimawi, the director of the PLC Office in Ramallah, and Hamas leader, Ra’fat Nassif.
• From Al-Khalil (Hebron): two lawmakers: Azzam Salhab and Nizar Ramadan.
• From Bethlehem: MP Khalid Tafish.

While the raids were going on, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with a committee composed of cabinet ministers and legal experts to discuss what further measures could be taken to apply even harsher measures against prisoners from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The measures include further restrictions on visits from family members and on personal property that can be brought in for those prisoners; also depriving detainees of the right to continue their education and denying them access to mass media and other sources of information about the outside world.

No backing down; no haggling
Responding to the policies set in place by the Israeli occupation authority and what it may intend to do in the future against Hamas and the Palestinian prisoners, Hamas made it clear that it is more firmly committed to the conditions it set for Shalit’s release than it has ever been.

Hamas leader Mushir al-Masri, Secretary of the Hamas contingent in the PLC, said, “The prisoner issue is too important for haggling; and experience has shown that seizing elected representatives and trying to make examples of them in order to apply pressure on Hamas never succeeded in compelling it to back down from its position. In fact, it will only push it to hold more firmly to the conditions it has set for the prisoners' exchange.”

Masri emphasized in a press release, “The soldier held captive by Hamas will never see the light of day as long as our brave prisoners do not see it.” He made it clear that the conditions put forward by Hamas represent the minimal aspirations of the Palestinian people.

In fact the list of names of prisoners whose release is demanded consists of a mere one-tenth of those being held in Zionist detention centers, and “the life of one Zionist soldier is not more valuable than the life of one of our brave prisoners.”

He pointed out that the Zionist enemy fully realizes that by using those lowly, cheap methods to apply pressure on Hamas they are recklessly endangering Shalit.

Masri added in his press release, “These savage attacks drive home to what extent the enemy has run out of means for tracking down its captive soldier. The enemy has basically run out of ideas, which is why it is resorting to such despicable tactics.”

The rejection of expulsion and of linking the swap deal to pacification
MP Muna Mansoor, a representative from Hamas in the PLC, said in a press release that Zionist pressure would not succeed in bringing Hamas into submission.

She referred to previous applications of pressure on Hamas “that even reached the level of targeted killings, but the movement could not be crushed.” She expects Hamas to face “the worst” from the Israelis.

Hamas leader and MP Dr. Salah al-Bardawil, who made the official announcement on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 that the current round of negotiations on prisoner release had ended, disclosed that the occupation “had pursued stalling tactics that led to the collapse of the talks.”

Bardawil emphasized that Israeli persistence in using stalling tactics was in order to delay and hinder the prisoners' exchange by linking it to the issue of pacification.

He adamantly rejected the Israeli demand that a condition of the prisoners’ release be their expulsion from their homeland, saying that this is unacceptable from both a nationalist and a humanitarian perspective.

He called upon the entire Palestinian nation, and especially the families of the prisoners, to hold steadfastly to national principles and stand firm against the repeated Zionist threats.
He also requested the Egyptian mediators to take a public stance in disclosing the Israeli stalling tactics and who is the one hampering the efforts to arrange a prisoners' swap. He accused the Israelis of causing the failure of Egyptian efforts to resolve Shalit’s case.

Misleading Zionist public opinion
Even in the Zionist camp, the Israeli press has begun to speak openly about the lies of Olmert and his party in blaming Hamas for the failure of the prisoners' exchange talks. They demanded that he stop what they called “bogus heroic posturing at Shalit’s expense.”

Israeli writer Gideon Levy, in an article published in the Hebrew-language newspaper, Haaretz, under the headline: “Olmert’s Defeat at the Hands of Hamas” clarified that since Hamas announced its demands for the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners it has never budged an inch from its position and has refused to enter the auction house of haggling, bidding and counter-bidding.

He emphasized that the price demanded by Hamas is a fixed price, not open to discounts or end-of-season sales, as he expressed it.

Levy compared that with the position of the outgoing government: “As for our side, they said that Hamas had stiffened its demands. The truth is that Hamas has not changed its position for a thousand days.” He hints that the claim that Israeli public opinion pins the blame on Hamas is also a fatuous lie, if one reads between the lines of his article.

Levy also responded to Olmert’s claims that Hamas is being cruel for not releasing Shalit by saying, “The truth is that Hamas is struggling to secure the release of its followers; and it has no realistic hope of doing so except by a deal to exchange prisoners. This is a humanitarian issue without compare.” At the same time he makes fun of the propaganda about the “price” to Israelis, the claim that releasing 450 Palestinian prisoners infringes Israeli security while eventually agreeing to release 325 prisoners does not.

Levy wondered out loud, “No one can seriously hope to convince us that releasing 325 “saboteurs” will not pose a threat to Israeli security but releasing 450 will. Will 125 persons with Shabak trailing them be able to change the situation? On top of that, who said that releasing the prisoners would be a form of surrender and submission while Shalit remaining in captivity would be an Israeli victory?”

In line with what Levy wrote in Haaretz, Yediot Ahronot, another Hebrew daily, demanded in an editorial on Thursday, March 19th that the Israeli government release Palestinians in the Zionist prisons and avoid misleading Israeli public opinion, indicating that the losses the occupation forces will suffer from the collapse of prisoners' exchange negotiations will be greater than the losses suffered by Hamas.

The newspaper insisted that the Israeli government should admit the loss of the war on Gaza and stop feeding illusions to its army, saying, “Israel will never be able to free its captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, neither by applying pressure on Hamas nor by a military operation by Special Forces in Gaza.”

The newspaper concluded its editorial by saying, “Israel, the loser, has to bow its head and turn over the Palestinian prisoners to Hamas, and the Israeli authorities need to stop posturing as heroes at Shalit’s expense.”