News / Middle East

    Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Exchange Brings Joy, Fuels Debate

    A masked Hamas militant kisses freed Palestinian prisoner Mahawish al Qadi, left, who was involved in organizing the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 19, 2011.
    A masked Hamas militant kisses freed Palestinian prisoner Mahawish al Qadi, left, who was involved in organizing the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 19, 2011.
    Scott Bobb

    Tuesday's exchange of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has brought happiness to many in the region - but the underlying confrontations remain.

    Israel's release of 477 Palestinian prisoners brought celebrations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.  Under the deal, 550 more Palestinians are to be freed in two months.

    Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said it made sure that prisoners from other Palestinian groups and from the West Bank were included in the swap.  This has raised hopes of reconciliation with its rival, Fatah, which controls the West Bank.

    Some believe the release has strengthened Hamas and weakened support for the head of Fatah and Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, because of the lack of progress in peace talks with Israel.

    Gaza-based analyst Mahmoud Ajrami says historically, Palestinians held by Israel have been freed only through such exchanges. Ajrami believes the success of this release will lead to attempts to repeat it.

    "The Palestinian resistance movement will arrest more Israeli soldiers [in order] to release our brothers and sisters in the Israeli jails," Ajrami said.

    The Palestinians were freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by militants five years ago during a clash.

    As Shalit was welcomed home Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a stiff response to any acts of violence.

    He said Israel will continue to fight terrorism, and that any released "terrorist who returns to terrorism" will be taking his life into his hands.

    There are hopes that Shalit's release could lead Israel to ease its economic blockade of Gaza.  The blockade of the land and sea boundaries has raised poverty levels in Gaza.  Consumer goods are being smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, but so are weapons -- some used later for attacks on Israel.

    There are also hopes the prisoner exchange will boost efforts to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.  The Mideast Quartet, made up of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, is making a push to restart the talks.

    But Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and rejects the negotiations.  After the successful release of prisoners, its leaders say their goal is to free the remaining 5,000 Palestinians still in Israeli jails.

    Many Israelis fear this means more attempts to seize Israeli soldiers in the future. 

     

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

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora