News / Middle East

    Israel's High Court Approves Prisoner Exchange with Hamas

    Palestinian Mohammed Tamimi holds a picture of his sister Ahlam Tamimi, held in an Israeli jail, during an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 16, 2011.
    Palestinian Mohammed Tamimi holds a picture of his sister Ahlam Tamimi, held in an Israeli jail, during an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 16, 2011.
    Robert Berger

    A major prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas is expected to take place on Tuesday, after approval from Israel's Supreme Court.  

    The Israeli high court rejected petitions from the families of terror victims who tried to delay the release of Palestinian prisoners on grounds that they are terrorists who pose a threat to national security.  Under the agreement, Israel will to release 1,027 prisoners in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Hamas for more than five years in the Gaza Strip.

    The court ruled that the prisoner exchange is a political and security issue, and that there are no grounds to intervene in a decision by the Israeli government.

    Petitioners like Yossi Tsur, who lost his son in a terrorist attack, are outraged.

    "We came here today to the Supreme Court to try and stop this deal, which we think is a disaster to the State of Israel," said Tsur. "We think it's illegal; it's immoral.  Releasing 1,000 terrorists is a crime against the people of Israel."

    Despite the consternation over the release of top militants involved in deadly bombings, a public opinion survey shows that 79 percent of Israelis support the prisoner exchange.

    Robi Damelin, who also lost a son in a Palestinian attack, says her heart is with Gilad Shalit's mother.

    "I watched Aviva Shalit and I was so happy to see the smile on her face," said Damelin. "And there are all these mixed feelings, but I'm so convinced that we have to free prisoners.  It's the beginning of a way to go towards reconciliation."

    In the first stage on Tuesday, Israel is expected to release 477 Palestinian prisoners and the captive Israeli soldier will return home.  An additional 550 Palestinian detainees will be released in two months.

    In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum says the exchange is set to take place.

    Barhoum says there are no obstacles in the way of completing the deal, and that Gilad Shalit will be handed over to Egyptian authorities.  He says Palestinians are planning a big celebration in Gaza to give the returned prisoners a heroes’ welcome.

    Um Herez is preparing to welcome her husband home after 26 years in an Israeli jail.

    "I have no words to describe how happy I am,” she said, adding that as a mother, she is also happy for the mother of Gilad Shalit.  Herez says she hopes that every missing son, regardless of his religion, will return home to his mother safe and sound.

     

    Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora