By Julie Webb-Pullman – Gaza
Despite repeatedly stating that a key demand was an end to administrative detention, and that no partial offer would be accepted, an Israeli offer was yesterday accepted by the Higher Committee for the Hunger Strikers on behalf of the prisoners.
Although Israel has agreed to release 19 prisoners from solitary confinement – several of whom have been in isolation for more than ten years – and to lift the ban on family visits for prisoners from Gaza, the agreement states only that administrative detention will not be ‘renewed’ automatically and that after six months, the prisoner must be released, or charged. Current administrative detainees will be released, or charged, at the end of their current sentence.
This is a far cry from the ban prisoners were demanding. Palestinians can still be ‘administratively detained’ for at least six months. Current prisoners will not be immediately released, including those on the verge of death, but must wait until their current sentence expires – and even then, it is not guaranteed. An official at the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mohammad Radwan, told me today that in his opinion Israel will just charge them all.
“You can never have 100% confidence in the Israeli’s,” he said, referring to the fact that most of the prisoners’ demands had already been agreed to by Israel in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal in October 2011, but which Israel did not fully implement.
“We hope Israel will comply, but as Palestinians we have no more than Israel’s guarantee – it will require the international community to continue to apply pressure to force Israel to.”
Radwan noted that at the time of signing the deal, Israel also extended the administrative detention of a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ismail Rajoup. Hardly a sign of good faith negotiations…
For families especially, any deal that did not win freedom fell short.
“Will they release Bilal? Is it over?” asked his mother Missadeh Diab. Not until June, apparently…
Whilst in Gaza the solidarity tents and their occupants had disappeared by dawn, there remains a lot of doubt in many peoples’ minds as to whether the deal will be fully implemented, or if, like the last, Israel will simply do the least they can to get the international community off their back, and return to business – administrative, of course – as usual.
– Julie Webb-Pullman is a New Zealand activist and writer currently based in Gaza. She has written on social and political justice issues for New Zealand Independent News website SCOOP since 2003, as well as for websites in Australia, Canada, the US, and Latin America, and participated in several human rights observation missions. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (This article was first published in Scoop – http://gaza.scoop.ps.)