Freedom denied: Three years on the re-arrest of released prisoners from the Wafa al-Ahrar exchange

Celebration of release of Palestinian prisoners in Wafa al-Ahrar exchange

Dozens of Palestinian prisoners released in 2011 in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange have been imprisoned once more for over three years. 18 June 2017 marked the third anniversary of the seizure of 74 Palestinian prisoners released in the exchange agreement by Israeli occupation forces in mass arrests throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2014.

Nearly 60 of these Palestinian prisoners have had their original sentences reimposed under Article 186 of Israeli Military Order 1651, which created a special military committee to arbitrarily re-impose sentences upon former prisoners released in the exchange, usually on the basis of “secret evidence” or allegations of “violating their terms of release,” usually on the basis of “association” with prohibited organizations, which include all major Palestinian political parties.

Among the re-imprisoned Palestinian prisoners is Nael Barghouthi, who has spent the longest period of time in Israeli prisons – 37 years. While the military commission originally imposed an additional 30-month sentence on him after his arrest in June 2014, the Israeli occupation prosecution appealed his sentence and restored his original life sentence plus 18 years. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network will be protesting for the release of Barghouthi in New York City on Friday, 30 June.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society noted that the reimposition of Palestinian prisoners’ former sentences continues, including that of Nayef Ghizan, who attended a hearing scheduled for him only to be seized by occupation forces and his sentence of life plus 30 years restored on the same day.

Amjad Abu Assab, the spokesperson of prisoners’ families in Jerusalem, was quoted in Quds News on the reimposition of released prisoners’ sentences.

He said that seven Jerusalemite Palestinians had their original sentences reimposed: Ala’a el-Din Bazian, 59; Nasser Abed Rabbo, 50; Jamal Abu Saleh, 53; Rajab al-Tahhan, 49; Adnan Maragha, 48; Samer Issawi, 38; and Ismail Hijazi, 36.

Palestinian prisoners and Palestinian political organizations and resistance movements have emphasized the critical importance of freeing these wrongfully imprisoned men whose original sentences were arbitrarily reimposed upon them as a form of collective punishment against former prisoners and their families. The release of the 57 prisoners has been held forward as a principal demand of the Palestinian resistance before any further negotiations for a future prisoner exchange will take place.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network demands the immediate release of all 57 of the re-arrested Palestinian prisoners, and all Palestinians imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.

Military Order 1651 is used as a permanent threat against all former Palestinian prisoners as a constant criminalization of Palestinian existence and freedom. It serves as an attempt by the Israeli occupation to exclude the strugglers and leaders who have, in many cases, spent decades in Israeli prisons from Palestinian politics and the ongoing struggle for the freedom of their land and people. The arbitrary reimposition of former sentences on released prisoners is an attempt to terrorize all former Palestinian prisoners, their families and their communities.