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Israeli PR…How They Do It: Release 255, Arrest 300

July 26, 2007

A few days ago, to relieve pressure on Mahmoud Abbas and prop up Fateh a bit, the Israelis released 250 Palestinian prisoners from their jails. Much has been made of this gesture in the United States. The articles included stories that families of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism had petitioned the government not to release these prisoners, but that the government had not capitulated. The prisoners were released. The projected image is of a wise government able to make humane decisions and difficult compromises in the name of peace. Even thinking about it, a tear comes to my eyes…those wonderful Israelis.

Why is it that I think there is something wrong with this picture?

Some of it has already been reported. As usual it is not so much outright lies as much as embellishment and de-emphasis that is at work here.

yes Israel released 255 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom had languished in prison for more than 30 years

however, although 255 sounds like a large number, it is a drop in the bucket as there are, by numerous accounts, more than 11,000 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails at present

the release was done in such a way to cause greater tensions and divisivenesss among the Palestinians, and was essentially announced as such: only Fateh members and supporters were released. None from Hamas or Islamic Jihad were given freedom. this is a crude kind of skinner- like behavior modification. Pat Fateh on the head, kick Hamas in the teeth. Play one against the other to exhaust the movement as a whole and weaken that much further, a common Palestinian political approach to ending the occupation.

Another fact has come to light that only magnifies the cynicism of all this. In the two week period before the much vaunted prisoner release, Israel arrested 300 new Palestinian prisoners for a net gain for the Israeli prison system of 45. Further, most of those arrested were from Fateh that Israel claims to support. The figure of 300 arrests has been confirmed by Association of Palestinian Prisoners, by the Palestinian Statistics Bureau and by Fateh itself. Just another indication of how little substance the current peace initiative contains.

Thanks to Richard Wagman of the Union Juive Francaise pour la Paix (UJFP) in Paris for this last bit of information.

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