‘If Freed, I’ll Still Fight Israel’
Abdullah Barghouti: Blame PM for Schalit impasse; Schalits dismiss remarks.
The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is putting spokes in the wheels of the prisoner exchange deal, Hamas official Abdullah Barghouti said at the Nazareth District Court Sunday.
Barghouti, who is serving 67 life sentences for murdering 66 Israelis and being an accomplice in the murder of others, is one of the prisoners Israel is refusing to release in an exchange deal that would bring IDF soldier Gilad Schalit back home. Schalit has been in Hamas captivity for almost four years.
Israel brought Barghouti to court to ask to extend the conditions of his solitary confinement.
Upon arrival, he confidently told reporters, “If there is a deal, I would be set free along with Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat.” Marwan Barghouti and Sa’adat are other ‘high-value’ prisoners convicted of multiple counts of murder.
Barghouti also said, “After my release, I will continue to fight for Palestine, so long as the occupation continues.”
Asked whether Schalit was properly treated by his captors in the Gaza Strip, he said, “As far as I know he is fine. He eats, he drinks, he sleeps. We don’t harm our prisoners.”
Responding to a question about Schalit’s right to stand trial, Barghouti said, “When we have a state we will also be able to conduct proper trials.”
“The will to fight has nothing to do with Jews themselves, it is only because the Jews conquered our land,” Barghouti continued.
Last week, during a discussion at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu said one of the conditions Israel insists on regarding the prisoner exchange is that prisoners are not released to places from which they can easily return to terrorist activities.
Netanyahu noted how in two past prisoner exchange deals, some of the Palestinians released were involved in murdering more than one hundred Israelis.
In response, the Schalit family dismissed Barghouti’s remarks.
“Hamas leaders continue to show a cynical disregard for their own people, giving no response to the Israeli offer made through the German negotiator three months ago,” the family said in a statement. “It grieves us to see that a Hamas prisoner can come before the court to seek justice while Gilad is not even allowed to see the light of day.”
Shmuel Landau and Zion Suyeri, of the Almagor Terror Victims’ Association, urged the government not to make any deal releasing Hamas terrorists, in light of Barghouti’s statement.
“We reiterate our support for the prime minister’s refusal to bow to Hamas directives,” the pair, who have both lost family members in terrorist attacks planned and organized by Barghouti, said. “The statements by the murderer of 60 Israelis emphasize the dangers of releasing hundreds of terrorists convicted of murdering innocent Israelis.”
They expressed hope that the government would find a way to protect Israeli lives, while also bringing about Schalit’s release.