|Scene from August 2013 release of convicted Palestinian Arab murderers |
from their Israeli prison cells under the influence of a failed
US State Dept-engineered transaction [Image Source]
New prisoners' swap deal with Israel will be soon: Hamas
GAZA, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Islamic Hamas movement on Friday promised the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that a new prisoners' swap deal with Israel is expected to see the light soon. Large banners were stuck early on Friday morning at crossroads in the coastal enclave. The banners signed by al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas armed wing and wrote "Palestinian Prisoners to be released soon."
The banners included a picture of the Israeli soldier Shaul Oran, who was captures after 12 days of the large-scale Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip, which lasted for 50 days and ended in Aug 26. The group's banners didn't say clearly if the soldier is dead or alive, but said a new prisoners' swap deal is expected to see the light soon. The banner included several question marks, in reference to the fact that there is another soldier.
Meanwhile, Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza told Xinhua that his movement promised the Palestinian people that "we have an appointment with a new victory, a new prisoners' swap deal with Israel." "The Palestinian resistance (Hamas) has the right to keep the details in secret, but it promised its people of an honorable swap deal, and resistance has the ability to do so," said al-Masri, who declined to give anymore details.
However, everything is related to finalizing the Egyptian- sponsored indirect negotiations for enforcing a permanent ceasefire agreement and end the Israeli siege that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for eight years.
"Talks for a prisoners' swap deal will be completely isolated from reinforcing a ceasefire and ending the siege on Gaza," said al-Masri...Oddly the Xinhua reporters and/or editors seem to lack the word "hostage" in their professional vocabulary.
About Mushir al-Masri, the Hamas spokesperson: we last mentioned him here when we wrote about three Hamas politicians who were ignominiously kicked out of Bulgaria in February 2013 [see "15-Feb-13: Gnashing of teeth in Gaza as its reps are roused from bed and thrown out of Bulgaria". One of them was this al-Masri. We wrote at the time that he
is a clansman of another al-Masri who entered Jerusalem's Sbarro restaurant on August 9, 2001, walked up to the counter and exploded the guitar case on his back. That bomb caused the deaths of 15 Jews, most of them children - which was the plan - and injured more than 130 others. We have written a great deal about that bombing since it cost us the life of our fifteen year-old daughter Malki.He happens to be an individual with a deep and personal commitment to violence and terrorism that he has no problem publicizing at any opportunity. In a 2006 backgrounder entitled "Hamas Essentials" produced by CAMERA. they quote him saying in a speech:
We have come here to say that the weapons of the resistance that you see here will remain, Allah willing, so that we can liberate Palestine - all of Palestine - from the Sea to the River, whether they like it or not.
None of this, astonishingly, dissuaded the Swiss authorities from allowing him to come to Geneva in 2012 as the head of a Hamas "parliamentary" delegation and to be received there as an honoured guest at the University of Geneva (here's a January 2012 Swiss news report about this. with al-Masri's face as its focus). We were personally involved in creating some media awareness about this at the time (with little effect - Switzerland is a European country with all the political consequences). We blogged about this ["17-Jan-12: Switzerland again: International parliamentary group says it erred in inviting Hamas"] at the time.
We will be back later with some more comments about the claims of a prisoner release deal. Meanwhile, just for the record, a Haaretz report this past Wednesday quotes Israeli negotiators saying
Israel is refusing to discuss the release of Hamas terrorists who were freed in the 2011 deal for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit but then rearrested after Hamas kidnapped three Israeli teens in June, a senior defense official said on Tuesday. Hamas had raised their release as one of its demands in the Egyptian-mediated talks on a long-term cease-fire in the Gaza Strip that began in Cairo last week. But the official said Israel’s position, as presented in the talks, is that it refuses even to discuss any demands relating to the West Bank, including the release of the rearrested terrorists. “We told them clearly and consistently: We’re willing to discuss Gaza,” the official said. “But nothing about the West Bank – not the [other Palestinian] prisoners and not those freed for Shalit.” [Haaretz]Checking now.