The LA Times has a touching story about Raeda Omjamal, who awaits the return of her husband Rawhi Mushtaha, one of the 1027 prisoners whom Israel plans to release in the deal to gain the release of hostage, Gilad Shalit.
Omjamal was 23 years old, a freshly transplanted Palestinian refugee from Jordan who only met her husband two months before their wedding. The had another six months after the marriage. Now, at 47, Omjamal is preparing to welcome her husband back home after seeing him only once during 24 years of incarceration. Though they exchanged occasional messages and letters through attorneys, personal visits were mostly prohibited. Today, the young, bearded fighter she married in 1988 is a gray-haired, wrinkled stranger. Asked how it will feel to live in the same house again, she laughed and turned red, noticeable even though a pale green veil covering most of her face.
Worst of all was this sentence:
Israel called him a murderer for his role in helping to run Hamas’ military operations.
He was involved in an organization that murdered (Palestinians) and was convicted. The New York Times in Israel Releases Names of 477 Prisoners to Be Freed in Trade is a little less sentimental and doesn’t spend time on Omjamal’s sentimental regrets:
The list includes Rawhi Mushtaha and Yehya Sinwar, two founders of Al Majd, a forerunner of Hamas’s military wing. Al Majd killed Palestinian collaborators, cracked down on behavior regarded as immoral and gathered weapons. Both were arrested in early 1988, less than two months after the outbreak of the first Palestinian uprising and the formal creation of Hamas by Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Mr. Mushtaha, 52, was serving four life sentences for murder through an act of terror, military exercises, manslaughter and incitement. His wife, Raeda, wearing a full face niqab veil, confirmed Sunday that her husband was a founder of Al Majd. Asked if he regretted his actions she said, “No.” Speaking from her Gaza City home, she continued: “Rawhi is with Hamas until we restore all our Islamic holy places and the return of refugees. Our method and path is resistance. We will not lay down weapons, because resistance is a legitimate right for any people fighting for their freedom.”
Interesting statement about that lack of regret. I couldn’t find this elsewhere, so I have to (regretably) use Al Jazeera as a source. What is one of the terms of release?
“They will have to sign a declaration that he or she will not be involved in terrorist activities any more, but after that, there is no monitoring,” Emi Talmor, director of the Israeli justice ministry’s pardons department, told Al Jazeera.
That quote – if it accurately conveys Mushtaha’s feelings – would be a repudiation of that declaration wouldn’t it? (I’ve been informed that the declaration is a formality; with no legal significance. The Al Jazeera article is interesting in that it says that the released terrorists will be monitored. Will Israel take any action if they travel to a prohibited area?) The New York Times associates Mushtaha with Al Majd, effectively acknowledging his guilt and not just attributing it to an Israeli declaration. For a description of what Mushtaha did, here’s a 1993 op-ed from the New York Times, The Hamas way of death. Israel found a training tape of Hamas, and the New York Times thought it was newsworthy enough to publish.
At first, every collaborator denies his crimes. So we start off by showing the collaborator the testimony against him. We tell him that he still has a chance to serve his people, even in the last moment of his life, by confessing and giving us the information we need. We say that we know his repentance is sincere and that he has been a victim. That kind of talk is convincing. Most of them confess after that. Others hold out; in those cases, we apply pressure, both psychological and physical. Then the holdouts confess as well. Only one collaborator has ever been executed without an interrogation. In that case, the collaborator had been seen working for the Border Guard since before the intifada, and he himself confessed his involvement to a friend, who disclosed the information to us. In addition, three members of his network of collaborators told us that he had caused their isqat. With this much evidence, there was no need to interrogate him. But we are very careful to avoid wrongful executions. In every case, our principle is the same: the accused should be interrogated until he himself confesses his crimes.
So anyone who became “inconvenient” could be denounced for helping Israel and then judged and executed.
2) Blood on his hands
There was an expression that Israel would not release terrorists with “blood on their hands.” It was a figure of speech, meaning that at one point Israel would never free any terrorists who had actually killed Israelis. That line has long ago been crossed, and given that the sentences Israel is ending early add up to thousands of years, quite a few murderers are being freed in order to free Gilad Shalit. But according to Ynet, Israel will be releasing the terrorist who literally had blood on his hands. (h/t Baltimore Jewish Life)
“On the one hand, the bereaved brother says, the family is happy for the parents and siblings who will see their son Gilad Shalit come home. “On the other hand, our family is angry that nobody cared about our sensitivity. No one (in the government) experienced our pain,” he said. The painful monologue above belongs to Michael Norzich, brother of Vadim, who was murdered by a mob in Ramallah in the year 2000. Michael said that no one called to tell him that one of the murderers of his brother is included in the list of 477 prisoners who will be released as part of the first phase of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. Abed Alaziz Salaha, who was photographed in the horrific photo with his hands covered with blood in what has become the symbol of the second intifada, was sentenced to life in prison but is expected to be released on Tuesday.