Gaza families await prisoner swap deal

October 15, 2011

Mothers and wives of Palestinian prisoners quickly gathered outside the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza after a prisoner swap deal was announced on October 11 between Israel and Hamas.

These women have not seen their loved ones, imprisoned by Israel, for five years.

For the past five years, the families of 950 Palestinian prisoners from Gaza have been protesting weekly outside the ICRC’s headquarters, demanding their right to visit their sons, husbands and relatives inside the Israeli jails, a right denied to them by Israel.

The latest protest carried much hope for the families, as both Israel and the ruling Hamas party in Gaza agreed to a deal in which Hamas will free captured Israel soldier Gilad Shalit in return for the release of more than 1000 Palestinian detainees.

Um Ibrahim Abu Ali, mother of prisoner Ibrahim Abu Ali, told “Our children have been caught by Israel while they were struggling for their own legitimate rights, including the right to statehood and to return back to their historical homeland, but the captured soldier was captured on his tank, firing on us.

“I would like to send out a message to Israeli mothers that we Palestinian mothers continue to suffer and have endured a lot of agony for many years now ... I am very concerned now as to whether my son will be included in the swap deal or not.”

Nidal Asarfeeti said his son Ali was sentenced to a 16-year term and that he has already served 10 years. Ali is detained in the Hiqidar prison in the Negev desert in southern Israel.

“Although the prisoner swap deal can be considered a sort of achievement, I can say it is still not meeting all our demands, mainly the return of those prisoners to their own family homes, not to the West Bank or to Gaza,” Asarfeeti said. “Yesterday, I was asked whether my son Ali is listed. I said hopefully he will be released, though I just hope that other prisoners who still have many years to wait until their terms come to an end, will be listed.”

[Abridged from .]

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