Israel releases Hamas lawmaker
By MOHAMMED MAR'I | ARAB NEWS
Published: May 20, 2010 22:32 Updated: May 20, 2010 22:32
RAMALLAH: The Israeli Prison Service released on Thursday Hamas lawmaker
Mohammed Abu Tir after serving a sentence of four years.
Abu Tir was among 65 top Hamas officials, including ministers of the Hamas
government and Parliament members, that were detained by Israeli security
forces shortly after Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted in a
cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip in 2006. Israeli military courts accused
them of belonging to an illegal organization, association with a terror group,
among other allegations.
The officials were bargaining chips Israel hoped to use as leverage in the
efforts to secure the release of Shalit.
The orange-bearded Hamas lawmaker was imprisoned in Nafha Prison in southern
Israel, from whence he was transferred to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem in
preparation for his release.
Abu Tir was received by a crowd of revelers in a celebration tent at his East
In the first statement after his release, Abu Tir said: "I don't want Gilad
Shalit to remain in captivity, just as I did not like captivity. The Israeli
leadership has torpedoed the deal. The Israeli leadership must be realistic in
dealing with this matter."
"All Israeli leaders are against the deal to release Gilad Shalit. They reached
a deal a number of times, but never followed through. Just like I have a
family, a father, mother and children, Gilad Shalit also has a mother and
father who want him. If only there was a deal, but it's not in my hands; it is
in the hands of the leaders."
Israel has so far released nine of the Hamas officials jailed after Shalit's
abduction. Israeli defense officials said those ministers, including Aziz
Dwaik, head of the Hamas Parliament, and former Prisoners Affairs Minister
Wasfi Kabaha, had just completed their prison terms and their release was not
connected to a prisoner swap deal for Shalit's release.
On Wednesday, Israeli Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari of rightist National Union
party pleaded with Defense Minister Ehud Barak not to release Abu Tir. In a
letter he sent Barak, Ben Ari said he had been "shocked" to hear of Abu Tir's
impending release. Abu Tir's hands, he said, "are soaked with the blood of
Meanwhile, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Hamas
government released top officials from the rival movements after mediation from
independent Palestinian figures.
Palestinian sources said that security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas
released Mohammed Ghazal, a member of the Hamas politburo.
Hamas said that Ghazal, a lecturer at the engineering faculty in Najah National
University, was detained by Abbas' forces in 2008. The movement said that
detention of Ghazal "was an attempt by Fatah-controlled PA in Ramallah to
eliminate Hamas from the West Bank."
In the Gaza Strip, the security forces of the deposed Hamas government released
a senior member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.
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