by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Since the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly honored and glorified the released prisoners.
On the day of their release, Abbas greeted each one at a general ceremony in Ramallah and has since then publicly praised and honored them.
In this picture, Abbas is seen with released prisoner Amal Jum’a. Jum’a was arrested with explosives in May 2004, the day before her planned suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv market. Abbas is holding a representation of the PA map of “Palestine” that includes Israel and the PA areas. A poem glorifying Martyrdom death is written on the map:
“Mother, death has come. Prepare the death shroud. Mother, to my death I march. I do not hesitate.”
Abbas met with Jum’a at one of the Fatah Revolutionary Council’s meetings, which was dedicated to the released prisoners. (See further details below)
In his speech after the release of the prisoners, Abbas praised them, referring to their prison terms as:
“…enforced absence which was imposed on you because you are people of struggle and Jihad fighters for Allah and the homeland… Your sacrifice and your effort and your actions were not in vain. You acted and struggled and sacrificed.”
[PA TV (Fatah), Oct. 18, 2011]
Abbas has responded to the prisoners’ release saying that he hopes for freedom for the rest of the prisoners and that he will continue to demand their release. Twice Abbas has singled out terrorists who are serving life sentences for murder: Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences for orchestrating suicide terror attacks against Israeli civilians, and Ahmad Sa’adat, who planned the murder of Israeli Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Zeevi. Abbas also specifically mentioned Abbas Al-Sayid, who is serving 35 life sentences and 150 years for planning suicide bombings, including the Passover Seder bombing that killed 30, and Ibrahim Hamed, who planned the Hebrew University, Cafe Moment and Cafe Hillel suicide bombings, among others.
This week, the official PA daily reported that the Fatah Revolutionary Council dedicated one of their regular meetings to the released prisoners to honor them. At the head table with Abbas, the PA Mufti and the Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs sat two terrorists who had been serving life sentences before their release, Akram Mansour and Fakhri Barghouti. Several other released prisoners attended the meeting as well.
In his speech at the event, Abbas said that the prisoners are “holy to us and we must exalt them”:
“Yesterday, in a ceremony that took place in the presence of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas at the President’s headquarters in Ramallah, the Fatah Revolutionary Council honored the prisoners released from the occupation’s prisons… He [Abbas] said, ‘We will not rest until all of our sons and daughters are released from the occupation’s prisons, as well as the [imprisoned] leaders like Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat. Every prisoner from every faction is holy to us and we must exalt them.'”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 29, 2011]
Shortly after the prisoners’ release, the PA decided to allocate $5 million for a “Presidential gift as token of honor to prisoners.” PA Minister of Prisoners explained that the PA would award “monetary release grants to all the released prisoners, without exception, both to those released to their homes and to those who were expelled.” The grants would be “disbursed by his honor, the President [Abbas],” said the Deputy Minister of Prisoners.
The following is from Abbas’ speech on the day of the prisoners’ release as broadcast on PA TV:
“In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. We thank Allah that [you have returned] in peace, that you have returned safe and sound to your families, to your brothers, to your communities, after the enforced absence which was imposed on you because you are people of struggle and Jihad fighters for Allah and the homeland. We ask of Allah, may He be exalted, to fulfill our wish to see the rest of our brothers and sisters released like you, at this plaza, Allah willing. Your sacrifice and your effort and your actions were not in vain. you acted and struggled and sacrificed, and in the future you will see the results of your struggle in the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Brothers and sisters, your cause was and still is in our hearts and our thoughts, in our consciousness wherever we have been, in every Arabic or international forum. We were concerned only for our prisoner brothers and sisters, and we now see some of the most prominent among them. In the future, Allah willing, in the very near future, we will see here our brother Marwan Barghouti and our brother Ahmad Sa’adat, to whom we wish a speedy recovery. And we want to see, Allah willing, Ibrahim Hamed and Abbas Al-Sayid, and every male and female prisoner, returning, released, to the homeland, Allah willing.”
[PA TV (Fatah), Oct. 18, 2011]
Marwan Barghouti – serving five life sentences for orchestrating suicide terror attacks against Israeli civilians. After he was convicted and imprisoned, he was re-elected member of the Palestinian Authority parliament.
Ahmad Sa’adat – serving life sentence for murdering Israeli Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Zeevi
Ibrahim Hamed – Hamas military leader who orchestrated many suicide attacks and bombings in Israel, including the suicide bombings in the Hebrew University cafeteria, Café Moment, Café Hillel, Zion Square in the center of Jerusalem, and others.
Abbas Al-Sayid – sentenced to 35 life sentences and 150 years for planning the suicide bombing at the Jewish Passover Seder in Netanya in 2002 in which 29 Israelis were killed, and another suicide bombing in Netanya in which 5 were killed and 100 wounded in 2001.
The following are statements from the PA Minister and Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs announcing the grant of 5 million US dollars to the released prisoners:
PA TV program interviews Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Ziad Abu Ein:
“We, as the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, have begun – and there is a gesture on the part of the honorable President [Abbas], approved by the Palestinian government, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad hurried to implement it: There is a grant, a ‘release grant’, a grant from the President [Abbas] to all the released prisoners, whether they are in the Gaza Strip, in Turkey, in Egypt, or in Syria. Starting yesterday [Oct. 21, 2011] we began distributing [the grants] to the released prisoners in order to help meet their expenses. This grant is around $5 million, disbursed by his honor, the President [Abbas], to be distributed to the [released] Palestinian prisoners inside [the PA] and outside of it.”
[PA TV (Fatah), Oct. 23, 2011]
Headline: “Presidential gift as token of honor to prisoners”
“[PA] President Mahmoud Abbas issued a directive today that monetary gifts be awarded as a token of honor to the prisoners released in the exchange deal. Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Karake, said in a telephone conversation with WAFA [Palestine News and Information Agency] that the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, in cooperation with the district governors and the national institutions, began today awarding monetary release grants to all the released prisoners, without exception, both to those released to their homes and to those who were expelled.”
[WAFA, Oct. 20, 2011]