News

Israel and Hamas Move Toward Prisoner Swap

Palestinian women hold portraits of relatives held in Israeli jails during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners, Nablus, West Bank 6 Oct. 2009
Palestinian women hold portraits of relatives held in Israeli jails during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners, Nablus, West Bank 6 Oct. 2009

Negotiations on a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have entered a crucial stage. 

After marathon top-level meetings in Jerusalem, Israel is moving toward a lopsided prisoner swap with Hamas - 1,000 Palestinian detainees in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Shalit.  The Israeli soldier was captured by Palestinian gunmen in a cross-border raid three and a half years ago and has been held in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the government is making intensive efforts to reach an agreement.  

Barak, a former general and army chief of staff, said it is a supreme duty to bring the captive soldier home, but he added, "not at any price."

The sticking point concerns about 20 hardcore Palestinian militants responsible for deadly attacks on Israelis.  In its latest response to Hamas, Israel demanded that these prisoners be deported to Gaza or abroad instead of returning home to the West Bank. Israel believes the militants would be less of a terror threat in Gaza, which is blockaded, than in the West Bank which is close to Israeli cities.

But Hamas says the men must return to the West Bank, and Israel's demand could hold up a deal. 

Hamas official Izzat Rashak warned that Gilad Shalit "will not see the light of day" until Israel meets the group's demands.

There are mixed feelings about the prisoner swap in Israel.  Many Israelis sympathize with the plight of Shalit's family and its public campaign to win his release.  Noam Shalit, the captive soldier's father, says Israel has carried out lopsided prisoner swaps in the past, so there is no reason for further delay. 

"We are waiting for decisions, and we think it is about time to decide and conclude this issue," Shalit said.

But many other Israelis say the deal is a grave mistake.  They warn that it will strengthen Hamas, while weakening Palestinian moderates; and it will lead to a surge in violence and more terrorist blackmail. 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs