Gaza City graffiti, Nov 2012 (Photo: Kia Ora Gaza)
By Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency, 16 July 2015.
Another row is brewing between Israel and the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, over the release of Avraham Mengitsu, an Israeli citizen who, according to Israeli military sources, ‘slipped into Gaza’ on September 7, 2014.
The circumstances of Mengitsu’s entry into Gaza remain unclear, especially since Hamas’ political leader, Khaled Mashaal, denied that the military wing of Hamas is holding the Israeli citizen.
According to Israel’s Defense Ministry, another Israeli is also being held in Gaza. A gag order on Mengitsu’s disappearance was just lifted, but another remains in effect regarding the other, allegedly, detained Israeli.
Indirect negotiations for their release are yet to begin, according to Israeli officials.
For Hamas, who, according to Mashaal, has been approached by Israel via European interlocutors, no discussion will be possible until Israel releases 71 Palestinians. This is the number of Palestinians who were re-arrested soon after they were released in 2011 following a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel. At the time, a prisoner swap secured the release of 1,027 Palestinians (477 reportedly affiliated with Hamas) and Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured and held by Hamas fighters for five years.
The new prospect of negotiations will allow Hamas to raise the issue of Israel’s violation of the last prisoner exchange agreement. By re-arresting freed prisoners, future agreements with Israel would appear frivolous and seem like a temporary measure to secure Israel’s immediate interests, without full and unconditional commitment regarding the freedom of newly released Palestinian prisoners.
Being the occupying power with unhindered access to occupied Palestinian territories in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel can apprehend any Palestinian they accuse of ‘terrorism,’ without much proof or serious due process. The Israeli efforts at choking any form of resistance, armed or otherwise, is often supported by the Palestinian Authority, whose security goons are fully trained and equipped to crush any dissent in the West Bank. A recent foray of arrests, targeting mainly Hamas supporters and other dissenting voices, is the latest proof.
Many cynics questioned the prisoner exchange in 2011. Some asked, “What is the value of securing the release of hundreds of prisoners if they can be re-arrested by Israel at whim?”
Palestinians continue to face the same dilemma of every national liberation movement in modern times. Native Americans, too, haggled with the same dilemma as they faced genocide and annihilation.