Palestinian political factions are urging the Egyptian government to forcefully pressure Israel to release rearrested Palestinian prisoners freed a few months ago as part of an Egyptian-brokered agreement between Israel and Hamas.
Palestinian women demonstrate in support of Hana'a Shalabi, currently on a hunger strike in protest of her administrative detention
According to the agreement, Hamas released an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in return for the release of hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners. Hamas' officials say the Egyptian authorities undertook to ensure that Israel doesn't renege on the agreement by re-arresting freed prisoners.
According to Palestinian sources, Israel has rearrested as many as five prisoners freed in the Shalit deal. Israel is also stepping up the scandalous practice of sending suspected Palestinian activists to "administrative detention" for protracted periods.
The freed prisoners rearrested in recent days and weeks include a young man from the Hebron region, Adnan Sharawneh, and another activist from the northern West Bank .
Israel also rearrested Hana'a Shalabi, who was also freed as part of the Egyptian-brokered deal, on 16 February.
Shalabi, an Islamist Jihad activist, has been on an open-ended hunger strike ever since her latest arrest to protest humiliating Israeli treatment, including so-called" naked searches," beating, and solitary confinement.
Shalabi, who had suffered two years of administrative detention, is also protesting her incarceration without charge or trial.
Israel says it has secret evidence against Shalabi, but refuses to disclose the alleged evidence to Shalabi's lawyer lest he expose the frivolousness of the false charges against his client in court.
Last month, another Islamic Jihad activist, Khader Adnan, ended a prolonged and highly-publicized hunger strike lasting for 66 days, also in protest against open-ended captivity in Israeli jails without charge or trial.
His decision to end the hunger strike came after Israeli authorities agreed to release him within two months.
Israel feared that his death might trigger widespread unrest throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.
Egypt Must Move
Saleh Aruri, who is in charge of the prisoners’ portfolio in Hamas, said the movement wouldn't have agreed to the Shalit deal had it not been for the guarantees and assurances given to it by Egyptian authorities.
"I think the Egyptian government is bound morally and legally to demand the immediate release of the rearrested prisoners. We are going to contact the Egyptian brothers to press them to intervene."
Aruri, himself a former prisoner who spent as many as 15 years in Israeli detention, said Israel was testing Egypt’s forbearance.
"I think the Israelis imagine that Egypt is too preoccupied with its internal affairs and has little or no time for the Palestinians. But this is not true, and we expect some progress in this regard in the coming days."
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has also criticised "Israeli piracy and gangsterism," accusing the Israeli authorities of behaving "like a gang of bandits and common criminals."
"By re-arresting some of these freed prisoners in violation of the Egyptian-mediated deal, Israel is demonstrating contempt and disregard for Egypt and its government. I believe the proverbial ball is squarely in the Egyptian court," said Issa Karaki, the PA Minister for Prisoners' affairs.
"We will not rest until all our brave and honorable prisoners are released."
"They want the prisoners to emigrate"
Israel is holding hundreds of Palestinians in administrative detention, and the number continues to rise.
The Israeli justice system, a mere rubber stamp in the hands of the security apparatus, refuses to apply normal legal procedure to these prisoners who often don't know why they are in jail or when they will go home.
"I think the ultimate Israeli goal is to force these people to leave Palestine . It is ethnic cleansing, Period," said Ra'ed Amr, a veteran prisoner from Hebron who spent more than 17 years in Israeli jails for peacefully resisting the Israeli occupation.
"Israelis are lying to the world, they tell the West they are a democratic state, but the West should realize that people here are imprisoned for many years without charge or trial. Does this sound democratic?"