Father of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit accuses the United States of disrupting a prisoner swap deal between the Israeli regime and the Palestinian Hamas movement.
Tel Aviv late last year agreed to release 450 Palestinian prisoners demanded by Hamas and another 500 as a ‘gesture’ to the Islamic movement.
It also acquiesced to release four senior Palestinian resistance figures, Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Sa’adat, Ibrahim Hamad and Abdullah Barghouti, but set a condition that they be deported to the Gaza Strip or a third country.
The German-mediated negotiations finally ran aground for what Hamas called “a big regression and retraction” on the Israeli part. The deal slipped further out of reach after senior Hamas commander Mahmud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhuh was assassinated in a terror operation in Dubai that is widely blamed on the notorious agents of Israel’s Mossad Intelligence Agency.
But Noam Schalit, whose son was captured by Gaza-based Palestinian resistance fighters in 2006, says Washington was behind the deadlock.
“Unfortunately, we have heard that the US administration has expressed dissatisfaction with the prisoner deal,” he said.
US President Barack Obama’s administration is concerned that such a deal would weaken the acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas, he explained.
Speaking to American Jewish leaders visiting the occupied West Bank, Shalit objected to a letter signed by 54 Democratic members of the US Congress urging an easing of the Gaza blockade, saying his son’s case was not considered in the document.
Despite repeated calls from the international community and human rights organizations, Israel refuses to lift a crippling siege it has imposed on the impoverished Gaza Strip since 2007, pushing the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Hamas-run coastal enclave on the verge of starvation.
The closure stood even throughout the massive military offensive Israel waged against the populated Gaza Strip in 2009 which left more than 1,400 Gazans, mostly civilians, killed.
Meanwhile, according to the census department at the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Israel currently holds 7,300 Palestinians — including 33 women, 300 children, 17 legislators and two former ministers.