Hamas TV: Kidnap 6 more Israeli soldiers and free remaining 6,000 prisoners
and free remaining 6,000 prisoners
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
On October 17, 2011, Israel released 477 Palestinian prisoners, the first of 1,027 Palestinians prisoners to be released in exchange for the return of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hundreds of the released Palestinian prisoners were serving life sentences for murder.
Following the deal, Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV broadcast a video which presents this exchange as a prototype for future Hamas strategy and action. The clip presents the kidnapping of another 6 Israeli soldiers as the key to the release of the remaining 6,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Text on screen:
6 Zionist soldiers = 6,000 prisoners.
Capture of 6 Zionist soldiers = release of remaining prisoners.
We are still thinking about you. Izz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas military wing)."
In November 2008, Palestinian Media Watch was invited to give testimony before the Israeli government committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Meir Shamgar, entitled "The Committee for Establishing Principles of Negotiation for Release of [Israeli] Prisoners."
PMW documented that Israel's willingness to exchange large numbers of imprisoned terrorists for the release of a small number of Israeli hostages was understood by Palestinians to indicate that kidnapping is the most effective tool for freeing terrorists. These sentiments were expressed by the Palestinian Authority as well as by Fatah and Hamas leaders and members. The PMW Special Report to the commission documented the Palestinian reactions immediately after exchanges that took place since 2004 and reached clear conclusions about how Palestinians view these exchanges. In the introduction PMW wrote:
"Israel's release of prisoners in exchange for hostages is not seen by Palestinian society as merely the last stage of one kidnapping, but as the first act of the next kidnapping."
PMW report from December 2009
by Itamar Marcus, Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Barbara Crook
This PMW Special Report includes 50 Palestinian statements concerning the Palestinian kidnap-for-hostage policy. The statements cover the period since the release of 1,000 terrorists by Israel in exchange for a kidnapped Israeli in 2004, until the negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit in December 2009. These Palestinian statements document that the Palestinian motivation and justification today for continued kidnappings is the direct result of the earlier prisoner releases.
Israel's release of prisoners in exchange for hostages is not seen by Palestinian society as merely the last stage of one kidnapping, but as the first stage of the next kidnapping.
More than 10,000 Palestinians are currently in Israeli prisons for terrorism of various degrees. The Palestinian Authority demands that Israel release them all, including murderers of civilians and masterminds of suicide terror who are serving multiple life sentences. Israel argues that they have been imprisoned following proper judicial process and must complete their sentences.
Due to Israel's willingness to release Palestinian terrorists from jail in exchange for freeing kidnapped and imprisoned Israeli hostages, Palestinians have concluded that kidnap-for-hostage is a valid strategy to achieve the release of additional Palestinian terrorists. This report documents that these opinions are found across the political spectrum and among the Palestinian leadership, both Fatah and Hamas.
Case Study 1
2004 -2006: 1,000 terrorists released for 1 kidnapped Israeli and bodies of 3 soldiers
The first major boost for the Palestinian kidnap-for-hostage policy came in 2004, after Israel released more than 1,000 jailed terrorists in exchange for one Israeli kidnapped by Hezbollah and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers. Palestinians - including both Fatah and Hamas members - expressed support for the Hezbollah achievement as a positive precedent, stressing that kidnapping Israeli hostages would be, from then on, their modus operandi for the release of more prisoners.
"Fatah's military branch organized a civilian and military procession yesterday through the streets of Rafah. This event was held in appreciation and gratitude for the efforts Hezbollah made for the release of Arab and Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails as part of the prisoner exchange deal with Israel. In a public statement by the Abu Al-Rish Brigades, Fatah's military wing emphasized the need to follow Hezbollah's example in order to achieve the release of all prisoners."
See more statements that followed the 2004 prisoner release, in body of report, below.
Case Study 2
2006-2008: 3 Israeli soldiers kidnapped
In June 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and taken to Gaza. Shortly thereafter, Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hezbollah and taken to Lebanon. Again, both Fatah and Hamas expressed support for the kidnap-for-hostage tactic:
"Fatah spokesman, Ahmad Abd Al-Rahman, conveyed his congratulations to the heroes who carried out the heroic act in southern Lebanon, in support of their Palestinian brethren... and emphasized that the demand to free the Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier (Shalit) is a natural right... He emphasized that the Israeli soldier should be freed only in the event of the release of Palestinian prisoners."
See more statements that followed the 2006 prisoner release, in body of report, below.
Case Study 3
2008- Present: Israel's release of terrorist murderers seen as precedent
In July 2008, for the first time since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, Israel released terrorist murderers. In exchange for the bodies of Goldwasser and Regev, Lebanese terrorists were released. This had significant impact on Palestinian resolve because it was seen as breaking the last of Israel's "red lines." Since then, Palestinians have argued that every single Palestinian prisoner, even murderers, will be released, as long as Palestinians continue to kidnap Israelis.
The following are some of the reactions immediately following the release of terrorist murderers in 2008:
Fatah TV after the release:
Hamas TV news after the release:
TV Newsreader: "The Palestinian prisoners regard this deal with great optimism and hope, now that Hezbollah has managed to break the Zionist equation which has opposed, for years, the release [of prisoners] who killed Zionists."
Additionally, the release of murderers serving life sentences in 2008 was seen by some as the end of Israeli deterrence:
See more statements that followed the 2008 prisoner release, in body of report, below.
2009: Israel's offer to release murderers reinforces kidnapping strategy
In the last months of 2009, as both Arab and Israeli sources have reported that Israel has agreed to release Palestinian terrorists serving life sentences for murder in exchange for kidnapped Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, Palestinian sources are again reporting that this release will be the motivation for the next kidnapping:
"As we have learned from the [past] stories of prisoner exchanges... and now - the Shalit deal. The [Israeli] message is clear and unequivocal. Only, only - says the Hebrew state - by force, detainment, capture and kidnapping of occupation soldiers, is it possible to free Palestinian prisoners 'whose hands are stained with blood, [i.e., serving life sentences for murder].'"
In 2009 the leaders of both the Fatah and Hamas movements reiterated their resolve to achieve the release of all Palestinian prisoners:
Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas political bureau:
The following are 50 statements of this Palestinian policy that PMW has collected since 2004, showing the Palestinian Authority's response to the first release of terrorists for a kidnapped hostage, and showing how Palestinian motivation to kidnap again is reinforced each time Israel releases terrorists. All items below are translated from Arabic by Palestinian Media Watch.
2004 - 2005
In 2004, Israel agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorists in exchange for one Israeli citizen kidnapped by Hezbollah (and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers). Palestinians - including both Fatah and Hamas members - expressed support and admiration for Hezbollah's achievement, seeing it as a precedent, and stated that the release of the prisoners established kidnapping as a model. Kidnapping Israelis would henceforth be the Palestinian modus operandi for the release of more prisoners.
The spokesman of the Committee of the Relatives of the Prisoners in Israeli Jails, Khalid Al-Khatib... said: 'The Government of Israel, by reaching this agreement, sends the Palestinians a message, which indicates that the releasing of your prisoners will not happen through negotiations.'
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements described the deal as 'an achievement,' which confirms that the resistance is 'a realistic and practical option' for the freeing of the land and the people.
One of Hamas's leaders, Ismail Haniyeh, told the French News Agency that the deal is a Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab achievement, adding: 'This deal confirms that the resistance is a realistic and a practical option, capable of liberating the land and the people.'"
Headline: "Protests in all areas, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades calls on its members to kidnap Israelis"
Sub-headline: "[PM Ahmad] Qurei: The detainees issue is one of the [Palestinian] government's top priorities. Their release is a condition for any possible agreement."
"The Presidency of the Legislative Council (PA Parliament) and the [national] forces announced their full support of the battle of the heroic prisoners whereas the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades called on its members to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to pressure Israel on the prisoners' issue."
An official in the Hamas movement, Dr. Nizar Rayan, said... that whoever kidnaps and arrests our sons, we have no choice but to kidnap his soldiers, settlers and land thieves, for the liberation of our heroes imprisoned in the occupation's dungeons. He called for all the resistance divisions to act to kidnap Israeli soldiers for their exchange with our brave prisoners..."
The [Hamas] Al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that the Brigades' unit for liberating prisoners had kidnapped the Israeli... planning to exchange him for prisoners, but a sweeping detention campaign by the occupation forces in West Bank towns had forced the unit to kill the officer. The Brigades said that by claiming responsibility for the operation, they were promising the prisoners that this operation was [just] the beginning."
In early 2006, Palestinian officials continued to advocate kidnapping Israelis, and PMW released two bulletins warning that Hamas planned to kidnap Israeli soldiers to hold as hostages.
In June 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured near Gaza by Palestinian terrorists. Shortly thereafter, another two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were kidnapped by Hezbollah and taken to Lebanon, leading to the Second Lebanon War. The kidnapping and Israel's subsequent negotiations with the kidnappers reinforced the drive for more kidnappings. One hostage (Gilad Shalit) would not be enough to make Israel release the thousands of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons, and Palestinian leaders therefore advocated more kidnappings to achieve the release of all terrorists.
Said Siam, Hamas Minister of Interior:
There is nothing the resistance (Hamas) cannot do. When there is a goal and a good plan, the goal can be achieved, especially about prisoners, which is top priority. During the PA administration, Hamas has succeeded in kidnapping and hiding bodies, but unfortunately, two bodies were handed over for nothing. When there is a kidnapping, and it is secured, each case at its own time has its own negotiations."
"Nabil Nassar, the representative of Hamas in the National and Islamic Forces Prisoners Committee, said, 'We will not abandon them [i.e. the prisoners]. The coming government will double its efforts to set them free using every possible means.'
Nassar said that Hamas, which will form the coming government, can take care of the prisoner issue by kidnapping [Israeli] soldiers if it fails to set prisoners free by peaceful means..."
"The head of the Hamas party in the Palestinian Parliament [and Foreign Minister - ed.] Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar said that his movement would not hesitate to kidnap soldiers of the occupation in order to exchange them for [Palestinian] prisoners, should the opportunity arise."
Prominent Islamic Jihad movement leader, Sheik Halid Al-Batash... called for seeking different mechanisms for the release of our heroic prisoners. He emphasized that among the mechanisms is the kidnapping of Zionists to exchange for the release of the [Palestinian] prisoners."
"In an announcement by Hamas... Hamas 'congratulates its brethren in Hezbollah for this quality operation. We admire its level of planning and execution...'
"Representative [of PA Parliament] Dr. Mustafa Barghouti... emphasized: 'This battle is for the liberation of our prisoners, who must not be abandoned.' He said that the procession [in Ramallah] was meant to emphasize the support of the Palestinian people for the Lebanese people...
Deputy Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Ziyad Abu Ein, stated that this year is the 'year of the prisoners.' He announced that not a single Palestinian or Arab prisoner would remain in the occupation's jails, and that the keys of the prisons were now in the hands of the resistance."
"Poll of Palestinians following Hezbollah capture of two Israeli soldiers as hostages for releasing Arab and Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails which caused the Second Lebanon War.
96.3% defined their attitude towards Hezbollah as "good"
90.9% supported the demand of those holding the Israeli soldier not to release him without a captives' exchange deal with the Israeli government."
Member of PA Parliament, Um Nidal (Hamas): "Disregarding the fact that I'm a member of Parliament as a Palestinian citizen, by Allah, I don't believe in any solution other than one: Kidnapping Zionist soldiers. We hope that with the help of Allah, may He be praised and extolled, the kidnappers will stick with their demands and will not lower their demands in any way... until they [the Israelis] surrender to our conditions."
"The [PA] Parliament has declared April 17 Prisoners' Day ...
Some of the representatives called for Hezbollah to include Palestinian prisoners in any exchange deal with Israel, while others called to tie the ceasefire to their liberation, or to resume kidnapping soldiers with a view to further deals...
Representatives warned against the failure of the efforts to release prisoners through peaceful means, which would ultimately lead to a search for other means, including the kidnapping of soldiers for the purposes of exchange, and a strengthening of the [violent] resistance which, some representatives said, is the only language that the occupation understands."
Representative Mussa: Operations to kidnap soldiers will continue
He emphasized further that it is important to continue with operations to kidnap Israeli soldiers. He added: 'The [prisoner] exchange deal [for Gilad Shalit] will break all the [Israeli] rules and cross all the red lines that Israel has set down, since [Palestinians believe] there is no such thing as 'prisoners whose hands are stained with blood,' [Israeli term for prisoners sentenced for murder] 'Jerusalem prisoners,' '1948 prisoners' [Israeli Arabs] or 'Arab prisoners' [citizens of other Arab countries]. All of them will be included within the [Shalit] deal, with no discrimination.'
He said further: 'We will not abandon the prisoners! The jails will be emptied through one strategy alone, which is resistance and the kidnapping of soldiers.'"
In July 2008, Israel released terrorist murderers for the first time since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. In exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers taken by Hezbollah, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Israel released Samir Kuntar, a convicted murderer serving four life sentences, and other Hezbollah prisoners, together with the remains of 200 Palestinians and Lebanese buried in Israel.
Israel's release of murderers had a significant impact on Palestinian society because it was seen as shattering the last of Israel's "red lines." The act was viewed as the needed proof that Israel succumbs to "the language of force."
In addition to serving as motivation for continued kidnappings, the release of prisoners serving life sentences was seen as opening up larger segments of society to terror, by significantly reducing the fear of prison as a deterrent. Palestinians believe now that all prison sentences are temporary and "meaningless." Today Palestinians are convinced that every single Palestinian prisoner, including all murderers, will eventually be released as long as Palestinians continue to kidnap Israelis.
Ashraf Al-Ajrami, PA Minister of Prisoners:
Telephone interview with Hani Al-Masri, former official in Ministry of Information, Palestinian writer and senior political commentator. The interviewer asked about the importance of the prisoner exchange between Hezbollah and Israel:
Interviewer: "Hani, after the deal that is going to take place between Hezbollah and Israel, Lebanon will be the first Arab country to have liberated its prisoners from the occupation's prisons by means of the resistance. What is the significance of this?"
Interviewer:"Hani, in your opinion, will the prisoner exchange deal between Hezbollah and the occupation [Israel] influence a [Shalit] deal between the factions in Gaza [Hamas] and Israel?"
Issa Karake, head of the Prisoners' Committee, Palestinian Parliament (Fatah):
The truth is that the freeing of Samir [Kuntar] breaks the Israeli veto, breaks the Israeli criteria, breaks the Israeli terms since they refused to release Samir [Kuntar] arguing that 'his hands are covered in blood'... In all previous agreements that were signed between Israel and the PLO, Israel always refused to release any Palestinian prisoner who had been accused of killing Israelis... Now there is a break, a true break in this Israeli taboo or veto."
Amin Dabir, political commentator:
Dabir: "Ultimately, it is clear that Israel will give in to the resistance (Hamas). Ultimately, Israel will, owing to its internal political situation and what is currently going on in the region, give in to the resistance, sooner or later, and will be forced to pay the price. What reinforces this is Hamas's declaration that it will not release this prisoner [Shalit] without exacting a price, and even if in a year's time... it [Israel] will have to pay this price. And if it pays the price, this will be a new precedent, a new event, which will emphasize the possibility of subjugating this entity [Israel].
Ashraf Al-Ajrami, PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs (Fatah):
It had been hoped that Samir Kuntar would be released earlier. However, the language of the negotiations and the agreements with Israel do not help towards the release of Samir Kuntar [and the release] of 344 prisoners [serving life sentences] who are still in the prisons... The message that Israel is conveying to the Palestinians and to the Arabs, one way or another, is that the release of prisoners is not attained through negotiations...
Hamas TV news broadcast:
Newsreader: "The Palestinian prisoners regard this deal with great optimism and hope, now that Hezbollah has managed to break the Zionist equation which has opposed, for years, the release [of prisoners] who killed Zionists. From the point of view of Hamas, this is a victory deal, favoring the resistance."
Headline: "Sentenced to 35 life terms and an additional 150 years, prisoner Al-Sayid: 'Life sentences of the occupation are meaningless as long as the resistance [Hamas] achieves successes'"
"The prisoner Abbas Al-Sayid, a member of the Hamas political leadership and commander of the [Izz A-Din] Al-Qassam Brigades in the northern West Bank, congratulated the Lebanese resistance and head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, and praised its successes achieved in the recent exchange deal [i.e., bodies of two Israeli soldiers exchanged for terrorist murderer Samir Kuntar] ...
Abbas Zaki, representative of the PLO Executive Committee in Lebanon:
"Dismissed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced yesterday that 'the Palestinians will soon celebrate an anticipated exchange of captives,' thereby strengthening Hamas's persistence in its demands in relation to the exchange deal [of prisoners for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit]..."
Hani Al-Masri, former official in Ministry of Information and Palestinian senior political commentator:
Hassan al-Kashef, writer and media personality:
Headline: "During military maneuvers in southern Gaza - [Islamic Jihad] Al-Quds Brigades: Operations for kidnapping Israeli soldiers and taking them captive are an option available to all of the military wings"
"The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, emphasized that operations of kidnapping soldiers and holding them in the hands of the resistance are an option available to all of the military wings. This was said during the course of military maneuvers organized by the 'Al-Quds Brigades' yesterday in southern Gaza, using light and medium ammunition and [anti-]tank and mine ammunition. Operations for storming buildings amidst heavy explosions were drilled, and training for kidnapping Israeli soldiers was carried out. One of the field operatives said, during the exercise, that 'Hezbollah's Lebanese experience, and [that of] the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, in kidnapping Israeli soldiers and holding them captive, has proved successful in forcing the various Israeli governments to accede to the captors' demands, and [it has proved] that the theory of bringing back soldiers by force has collapsed. The resistance has broken it and has forced the occupation leadership to submit to its demands.'"
Headline: "During military course graduation ceremony: Popular Front [PFLP] emphasizes importance of continuity of military activity alongside political [activity]"
"Two days ago the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine concluded its military course, entitled 'Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Shahids' [Martyrs] Course'... Participants in the training demonstrated military maneuvers, using light ammunition, medium-caliber ammunition, and anti-tank ammunition. They set off a number of explosives and also conducted a mock storming of the enemy's military positions with the objective of kidnapping Zionist soldiers."
Headline: "Joint Palestinian-Israeli public opinion poll"
"59% of Palestinians think that the best way to release prisoners is a peace agreement
39% think that the best way is to kidnap soldiers
78% of Israelis favor releasing Barghouti for Shalit
79% of Israelis prefer a two-state solution, while 11% prefer the solution of a single state"
"A joint Palestinian-Israeli opinion poll showed that a large majority of Israelis favor releasing Marwan Barghouti in exchange for Gilad Shalit, while three-quarters of Palestinians support kidnapping Israeli soldiers in order to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners...
The poll was conducted during the period between Aug. 25th and Sept. 1st, 2008, by the Palestinian Center for Political Studies and Polls in Ramallah, and the Truman Institute for Peace Studies at the Hebrew University, to examine Israeli and Palestinian readiness for the various negotiating processes...
The survey showed that 59% [of Palestinians] believe that the best way to release prisoners from Israeli jails is by reaching a peace agreement that will release them, while 39% believe that the best way is to kidnap Israeli soldiers and exchange them for Palestinian prisoners. However, in view of the experience [gained] from kidnapping Gilad Shalit, 74% [now] favor kidnapping Israeli soldiers and exchanging them for Palestinian prisoners, while 21% are opposed.
When [respondents were] asked when it would be possible to arrive at a reconciliation between the two nations, 31% of Israelis and 43% of Palestinians said that it would never happen; 40% of Israelis and 29% of Palestinians believed that this would happen only in another few generations or in the next generation, and 24% of Israelis and 20% of Palestinians believe that it would happen within the next decade or during the next few years..."
Headline: "Most Israelis are in favor of releasing Marwan Barghouti in exchange for Shalit - three quarters of Palestinians support kidnapping soldiers to exchange them for prisoners"
"A joint Palestinian-Israeli public opinion poll conducted in both societies emphasized that a large majority of Israelis favor releasing Marwan Barghouti in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, and that three-quarters of Palestinians support the kidnapping of soldiers in order to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners...
The Palestinian Center for Political Studies and Polls announced yesterday the results of the joint poll on general opinion which was conducted by the Center in cooperation with the Harry Truman Center for Peace Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, between Aug. 25th and Sept. 1st, 2008...
The results showed that 78% of Israelis support the release of Marwan Barghouti from prison in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, in contrast to 16% who are opposed. However, only 45% of Israeli opinion supports Barghouti's release, and 50% are opposed to his release, if it is necessary to negotiate with him in order to reach a resolution agreement that is acceptable to the Palestinians.
While most Palestinians - 59% - maintain that the best way to release prisoners from Israeli jails is by reaching a peace agreement that will release them, 39% believe that the best way is kidnapping soldiers and exchanging them for Palestinian prisoners. However, in view of the experience [gained] from kidnapping Gilad Shalit, 74% support kidnapping Israeli soldiers and exchanging them for Palestinian and Arab prisoners, while 21% are opposed..."
In 2009, as both Arab and Israeli sources report that Palestinian terrorists serving life sentences for murder will be released in exchange for kidnapped Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, Palestinian sources once again report that this release will motivate the next kidnappings. Since Israel has abandoned all its criteria, and is willing to release terrorists murderers, additional kidnappings become the best strategy to get Palestinian terrorists out of prison. The heads of both the Fatah and Hamas movements each view kidnappings as a valid tool to release prisoners.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas commenting on the release of female prisoners in exchange for a video of Gilad Shalit:
Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas political bureau:
Friday sermon on Al-Aqsa (Hamas) TV, broadcast from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:
Dr. Walid Al-Rashudi, head of Islamic Studies at Saud University:
I ask Allah for complete victory for the Mujahidin. Allah - direct [the stone] towards the enemy. Allah - provide Your forces with many soldiers. There is no one who can defeat His [Allah's] soldiers.
As part of a discussion on Fatah-Hamas relations and about Palestinian Prisoners' Day, an unidentified Hamas speaker says:
Hamas TV animation:
Child [to chain]: "You don't want to break- that's okay. Take your time; we're not in a hurry, we're very patient. [To kidnapped Israeli soldier] You stay where you are; don't move. Tomorrow we'll be back and we'll finish the job."
(Song): "It is inevitable that the chains will be broken."
[Gilad Shalit's image on stone, crying]: "Mommy!"
Hamas TV animation:
Hamas child: "Who is it, Gilad [Shalit]? [Laughing] Poor you! You've been rotting here for 3 years, and no one cares."
Gilad Shalit: "Please release me!"
Hamas child: "Are you asking me to be a collaborator and a traitor, that I'll betray my people and my homeland? Are you crazy!"
Gilad Shalit: "I have an idea: You [Hamas] go and capture more soldiers, they [Israelis] will be afraid and accept your terms to free me."
Hamas child: "Ah, they will free you not because they love you, but to prevent anxiety among your soldiers, so they won't be afraid, and stop their military service."
Gilad Shalit: "True."
Hamas child: "Gilad, stay here, and pray that [Hamas] succeeds in capturing another [soldier], so you'll be freed. Bye."
Gilad Shalit: "Mommy! Mommy! (in Hebrew) Free me!"
Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas political bureau:
Mahmoud Abbas, PA Chairman, interview
Mahmoud Abbas, PA Chairman: "I see it from only one perspective - 20 female Palestinian prisoners have left prison. The price may be high or low, that is not the issue. The issue is that some prisoners have left prison, which gives hope to many others. We have 11,000 prisoners. We will definitely, always and forever, act to free them using all means."
Hani Al-Masri, former official in Ministry of Information, Palestinian writer and senior political commentator
"The degree of influence of the prisoner exchange deal [on Palestinian society] is dependent on the conditions of the deal and whether it follows Israel's criteria, which include not freeing those serving lengthy prison terms 'whose hands are stained with blood'...
Completing the deal according to Palestinian criteria means:
b. Israel was forced to negotiate - even if indirectly - with a Palestinian organization that refuses to recognize it and to stop its (violent) resistance, and does not accept the Quartet's conditions. This will weaken Israel's ability to object to European, American and international contacts and meetings with the Hamas movement.
"[Gilad] Shalit is better known in the world than any Palestinian prisoner, as if it is obvious to the near-sighted and racist world that Shalit will be released from prison... while a Palestinian must enter prison and die there...
The Hebrew state understands nothing but force in the 'conflict and solution' game. The microcosm of this is the 'imprisonment and release' game, which is currently at its climax, in what is known as the 'Shalit deal'...
In this [prisoner] game there is no place for 'humaneness' and 'morality' [on Israel's part]... as we have learned from the [past] stories of prisoner exchanges, or the exchange of bodies [of kidnapped Israeli soldiers] for prisoners between Hezbollah and the Hebrew state, and the Ahmad Jibril deal [1,150 prisoners exchanged for three Israeli soldiers], and [as we] now [learn from] - the Shalit deal.
The [Israeli] message is clear and unequivocal. Only, only - says the Hebrew state - by force, detainment, capture, and kidnapping of occupation soldiers, is it possible to free Palestinian prisoners 'whose hands are stained with blood [i.e., serving life sentences for murder].'"