Thursday, April 18, 2013

18-Apr-13: At last, 3 compelling reasons why convicted Palestinian Arab terrorist prisoners need to be set free

From 2012 Palestinian Prisoners' Day: The prisoner in the poster on the
right is Abdullah Barghouti. See background here
and here about the man and his monstrous crimes [Image Source]
Yesterday was Palestinian Prisoners' Day:
Palestinians across the territories attended marches and rallies Wednesday as a show of solidarity with prisoners from the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza held in Israeli facilities. Some 3,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails on Wednesday refused breakfast as part of a one-day hunger strike to mark Prisoners' Day, an Israeli prison official said. [Al Akhbar English, Beirut]
The number of Palestinian Arab prisoners in Israeli jails is estimated by the ultra-left Israeli political pressure group B’Tselem at 4,713. It's a number widely quoted in the media today. So too are the public events that were held to draw attention to the day.

Speaking of prisoner numbers, a different news report also from yesterday describes the close ties that bind prisoners from Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other splinter factions inside Israeli jails. Outside prison, they murder each other, but their shared hatred for everything Israeli ensures that they find a modus vivendi while serving their time.

The article mentions in passing that out of the total population of incarcerated Palestinian Arab prisoners, no fewer than 2,325 have “blood on their hands” or were involved in acts of violence against Israeli soldiers. 550 of them are serving life terms; this is not for parking offences.

The Al Akhbar English report we quoted includes a snippet of an interview with Abdallah Abu Rahmeh. He's described as spokesman for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee:
Activists reached the Ofer prison perimeter on Wednesday morning, and tore down 50 meters of the prison fence, mounting a Palestinian flag on prison grounds. “After around four minutes of being at the fence, Israeli soldiers showed up. They fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs at the protesters... It is necessary to pressure Israel to release the Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers,” he added.
So allow us to ask: why is it necessary for Israel to release the Palestinian Arab prisoners, thousands of whom are behind bars?

Most are there, as we just noted, because they were convicted of offences including murder, attempted murder, possession of lethal weapons and ammunition, and other acts of terrorism directed at defenceless and innocent civilians. Whose interests does it serve to set them free?

A different news report - also from yesterday - might suggest an answer:

'Terrorist freed for Shalit plotted W. Bank attack' 
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2013 at 18:01
Security forces arrested a Palestinian man from Nablus on suspicion of plotting to carry out a terrorist attack, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced in a statement on Wednesday. The suspect, 24-year-old Amir Brakhat, had made the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, where he met and was recruited by Amir Dukan, a convicted terrorist from Nablus whom Israel released to the Gaza Strip as part of the 2011 Schalit prisoner exchange. Dukan offered Brakhat $60,000 to open fire at Israeli traffic near Nablus or hurl a grenade at the IDF checkpoint located in Hawara, the investigation revealed...“This investigation again illustrates the attempts by terrorist organizations to promote their activity in the West Bank through the increased use of ex-prisoners released in the Schalit deal,” the [Shin Bet] security agency continued. “In this context, the Umrah is exploited for meetings on Saudi territory, for the passing of messages, ideas and plans to carry out acts of terrorism.”
The Shin Bet has observed an increase in the number of terrorist plots involving ex-security prisoners who were among the 1,200 [sic] prisoners released by Israel in 2011 in exchange for the return of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who was held captive in Gaza for over five years by Hamas.
The security agency also announced on Wednesday that it arrested two men on suspicion of attempting to smuggle Hamas money earmarked for terrorism from Jordan to the West Bank. Moreover, the money was traced back to the very same Amir Dukan at the center of the first investigation, the agency noted.
So here are some thoughts based on what we have learned about the 1,027 Palestinian Arab terrorists released from prison in 2011 in the notorious Gilad Shalit Deal. The goal of Palestinian Arab Prisoners' Day is to release more of them. Does this make sense? Why?
  1. It's certain to set back the cause of peaceful relations and resolution of the armed conflict between the Arabs and Israel. It inspires would-be terrorists because there's a good chance they will be back on the streets and alleys quite soon if their plans get thwarted. That's good if you want the armed conflict to go on and on.
  2. It will produce more injuries and deaths among Israelis, most of them (by far) civilians since that's what terrorists always seek to do. Terrorists thrive on adulation and public protests, and will rise to the occasion if the focus (cameras, reports, speeches) is on them. That's great if you're a terrorist or one of their supporters.
  3. Most of the terrorists inside Israeli prisons today hurt, wanted to hurt, or failed trying to hurt, ordinary Israelis (their efforts rarely target soldiers). By hurt, we also mean kill. The victims, and we include ourselves in the category, know that a democratic society has processes that enshrine justice as a supreme value. It puts offenders on trial as part of a social contract in which it protects the citizenry (of course) and pursues and restrains the malefactors. Once the latter are convicted, their punishment will be calibrated to meet society's expectations. So... if you release them well before the terms meted by your courts, you are showing your justice system to be unreliable, capricious, inconsistent and susceptible to political pressures. That's not just good; it's excellent if you are an enemy of the system and seek to undermine it and the victims.  
 Are three reasons enough?

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