Palestinian residents, Arab nations and human rights groups in the Arab World are set to commemorate the Arab Prisoner Day on April 22, which is also the day when Sameer Quntar, a Lebanese citizen, was kidnapped by the Israeli army thirty years ago.Issa Qaraqe’, the previous head of the Palestinian Prisoner Society, and the current legislator in charge of the Detainee’s Committee at the Palestinian Legislative Council, saluted on Friday the Arab and Palestinian detainees held by Israel, and said that Palestinian and Arab prisoner share the same fate, suffering and oppression in Israeli detention facilities.
Qaraqe’ added that there are 60 Arab detainees imprisoned by Israel, and more than 10.000 Palestinians.
He demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees, and said that Arab detainees should be included in any prisoner swap deal between Israel and Palestinian fighters holding an Israeli soldier captive since June last year, and any deal between Israel and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah part, holding two soldiers captive since last year.
Qaraqe’ demanded the Arab Committee in charge of talks with Israel regarding the Arab Peace Initiative to present the issue of the detainees since their freedom is one of the main foundations of any future peace deal.
He also said that Sameer Quntar is currently in Hadarim Israeli prison, and is considered one of the main figures who played an important role in the Detainees Document which calls for peace with Israel if it releases all detainees and withdraws from all of the occupied territories since 1967, including East Jerusalem.
Quntar, born in Lebanon in 1962, was kidnapped on April 22, 1979. Israel refused to release him in the January 2004 prisoner swap deal with Hezbollah. At that time, Israel released 462 detainees, including 30 Arab prisoners, and handed Hezbollah through Germany the bodies of 59 fighters. In return, Hezbollah freed, Elhanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli lieutenant, and the bodies of 3 Israeli soldiers.
But Israel conditioned the release of Quntar with obtaining information regarding the missing Israeli soldier, Ron Arad. Arad is an Israeli air –force pilot who went missing after his plan was dropped over Lebanon in October 16, 1986.
Several other Arab detainees were kidnapped many years ago and remained in Israeli prisons. Among them detainee Sultan Al Ajlouny, from Jordan; taken prisoner in 1990, Basheer Al Maqt, from the Golan Heights; taken prisoner in 1985, and Seetan Nimir, taken prisoner in 1985.