Western media try to make Palestinian political prisoners mere numbers while personalizing one Israeli soldier. So let me just give you the names and brief story of two of those released Palestinian political prisoners.
Chris Bandak, a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem was just 21 when he was abducted by the Israeli occupation forces. He was released after spending the last 9 years in Israeli prisons for his resistance activities to the colonial occupation. But the deal meant moving him to Gaza. In an interview with Al-Quds, Bandak stated that he has no relatives in Gaza but since he arrived there he felt all of Gaza people are his relatives. He emphasized that the various resistance groups including Fatah (his group), the left groups, and the Islamic groups all respect and treat Christians and Muslim Palestinians the same as comrades. He also stated that the occupiers treated natives with the same cruelty regardless of their religion. He explained how painful it is to leave so many colleagues in Israeli prisons.
Ibtisam Al-Eisawi, Palestinian Muslim woman from Jerusalem was kidnapped 10 years ago by the occupation forces. She has 6 children. The youngest was only 6 months when her mother was jailed and she cried the most when she was finally able to begin to get to know her mother. Ibtisam’s oldest daughter was married only one week before Ibtisam was released. The pain of missing her daughter’s wedding, missing seeing her children grow up. Her name Ibtisam means “Smile” but this brave woman had seen few smiles in the last 10 years. Back now in her city of Jerusalem witnessing increased colonial settlement activities and increased efforts to make Jerusalem “Jewish” by ethnically cleansing its native people and importing Europeans and othesr to replace them. She says that she is happy to be out with her family but sad that so many people remain behind and thus the struggle will continue.
From personal experience I know how prison inmates become very close friends and how hard it is to leave people behind. So we must all never forget those his still await the day of freedom (or at least freedom from the small cage to the big cage of the “people warehouses” or bantustans we live in under Israeli apartheid and colonialism. Action for prisoners (thousands remain in Apartheid prisons):
New video on the attempts to Judaize Jerusalem: The story of Shaikh Jarrah and other Jerusalem Neighborhoods
Just finished harvesting olive trees (my fourth olive harvest season since returning to Palestine from the US). Body is sore but spirit lifted. Here is an article on the meaning and value of Palestinian olives, the olive harvest, and resistance. I wrote this for the 2009 harvest but it is the same this year including the low yield since 2010 was a good year.