Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) slammed on Tuesday the decision to include Arab prisoners, citizens of Israel, in the exchange deal with Hamas, saying it “may serve dangerous procedures on the government’s part, such as revoking citizenship of citizens due to freedom of expression offenses, and may serve right-wing instigators against those detainees, which could lead to bloodshed and justifying the delegitimization of the Arab society as a whole.”
Hadash and the CPI expressed different concerns over the addition of the Arab citizens to the list of prisoners for release. “What is needed right now is an immediate end to the false arrests and ‘witch hunt’ against Arab citizens, the release of these young women to their homes regardless of any deal, and at the same time, we call for the completion of the prisoner exchange agreements with Hamas as soon as possible and an end to the fighting in Gaza,” they said.
Rally for the release of hostages in Jerusalem, November 16, 2023 (Photo: Hostage and Missing Families Forum)
Some 25 jailed Arab-Palestinians citizens of Israel are part of a new group of 50 prisoners who were added Monday night to the list of candidates for release in return for Israeli hostages currently held by Hamas in Gaza. Almost all of the Arab citizens added to the list were arrested after Hamas’s deadly invasion on October 7, on charges of incitement and supporting terrorism, although their trials have either not begun or a ruling is yet to be handed down.
The State Attorney’s Office has indicted over 60 Israeli citizens, the vast majority Arabs, for “incitement to terrorism and violence” on social media networks since the October 7 attack, and many have been remanded in custody until the end of the legal proceedings against them. Civil rights groups have objected to many of these indictments, arguing that the alleged actions were not explicit calls to violence or terrorism and that indicting people for such comments violates their right to freedom of expression.
Hadash-Ta’al chairman, MK Ayman Odeh welcomed the first waves of hostages released and said the process should continue until all the Israelis and Palestinians in captivity are freed. “I bless and am happy for the return of mothers and children to their families,” he said. “We must not give up the vision for a real political agreement that will bring peace between the two peoples.” Odeh emphasized that “it is the right of both peoples, the Israeli and the Palestinian, to live a life of security and joy in the bosom of their family,” and declared that pro-peace and progressive forces in Israel “will not give up until a political agreement is reached.”
Hadash says negotiation of a lasting peace will require someone other than Netanyahu and his far-right allies to do the bargaining on the Israeli side. That’s why his removal is the second immediate demand of the ceasefire movement. “The deals must continue until all the abductees, captives, and prisoners are released,” Hadash said in a statement past week. “But the end of the war must also be accompanied by the overthrow of the fascist government and the beginning of a real political process with the Palestinian leadership under the auspices of the international community.”