Arab World: Celebrations Break Out as 477 Palestinians Released

Freed Palestinian prisoners leaving Egypt and entering Gaza posted on Twitter by Ian Lee

Tweeps have been busy today following the details of the Israel-Palestine prisoner swap, which saw the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

A total of 477 Palestinians were released today and the remaining 550 prisoners will be released next month, according to the deal between Israel and Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas.

Many across the Arab world pondered on how cheap Arabs were in the eyes of their governments, when compared to the lengths Israel would go through to secure the release and safety of one of its own.

According to Janine Zacharia:

@janinezacharia: In Israel's 9 prisoner swaps with Arab enemies, Israel has freed 13,509 prisoners to win the release of a total of 16 soldiers.

And Syrian SooriMadsoos laments his reality as a Syrian today. He makes his point in three tweets as follows:

@SooriMadsoos: I must say something guys u might not like it but I'm gonna say it anyways. Israel exchanged 1000 Palestinian prisoners for 1 Israeli

: I just envy their govt because it cares for it's citizens. Their govt is prepared to pay the ultimate price for one citizen

@SooriMadsoos: While our govt kills us like we are animals and our Arab neighbors say that it's an internal matter.

Saudi Ali Al Dafiri shares [ar] another viewpoint:

لم يكن ألف فلسطيني مقابل صهيوني واحد .. بل مقابل رهان سياسي وحاضنة شعبية وتضحيات فلسطينية عظيمة لا حدود لها ، هكذا أقرأ الأمر

: It wasn't 1,000 Palestinians in exchange for one Zionist… it was in exchange for a political gamble and great limitless sacrifices made by the Palestinians. This is how I read what happened.

Many commentators reacted to Shalit's health upon his release. Arab commentators were quick to the rebuttal.

Palestinian Ahmed Shihab-Eldin notes:

@ASE: #Shalit, like half the Palestinians living in West Bank and Gaza, is “malnourished” #eatingunderoccupation

Yousef Munayyer makes a similar point:

@YousefMunayyer: If you are surprised #Shalit is “malnourished” you are forgetting he has been eating like a Palestinian in #Gaza

And Ali Abunimah, also a Palestinian, reminds us:

@avinunu: Reminder that Israel still holds 1.5 million prisoners in the giant jail called Gaza for the crime of not being Jews. #TheyTooWillGoHome

Mainstream coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap got a lot of criticism from netizens.

Roqayah points out:

@iRevolt: What the media unashamedly neglects to tell you: Gilad Shalit was a corporal in the IDF, serving as a tank gunner.

and she adds:

@iRevolt: Gilad Shalit is a prisoner of war; Palestinian women and children are prisoners of occupation.

Kurdish blogger Ruwayda Mustafah points out:

@RuwaydaMustafah: Media swiftly ignores Arab prisoners being released. They too have faces, among them women and children. #Shalit.

And Indian Sunny Singh agrees:

@sunnysingh_sw6: Dear international media, thank you for that detailed coverage of #Shalit's release. Can you now give some info on the Palestinian prisoners

Meanwhile, Occupied Palestine posts photographs of the released Palestinian prisoners and their waiting families here.

Gaza broke out in celebrations to welcome the Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Shalit today.

Omar Gaza reports:

@Omar_Gaza: @danmike1 Most of #Gaza streets r closed lol u cant move easily everywhere, people r filling the streets celebrating :D

In Ramallah, similar celebrations were reported.

Quds News Network, on Facebook, shares those photographs from the celebrations to welcome the prisoners.

And DeeDee tweets:

@ManaraRam: NOW nationalistic songs are being played out loud in the streets of #Ramallah and all other cities Freedom to all prisoners #PrisonerSwap

Many in Palestine also noted how this prisoner swap deal may be a uniting force for the Palestinian factions.

Tim Marshall notes:

@Skytwitius: Gaza. Interesting. There are almost as many fatah flags in khatami sq as hamas. Five years since civil war threw fatah gunmen out.

While Palestinian Nour Odeh, a journalist based in Ramallah, tweets:

@nour_odeh: Emotions are high. Families of #prisoners at Ofer now chanting ‘National Unity, National Unity’, hope factions are listening!!! #Palestine

She continues:

@nour_odeh: Issue of prisoners is a uniting force in #Palestine; having sacrificed their freedom for the nation's, they are considered heroes by all

and she adds:

@nour_odeh: #Palestinian division is shameful, best present 2 prisoners would b 4 factions 2 implement their proposal on #unity, reconciliation

Palestinian Izzat Risheq expresses [ar] his happiness:

نستقبل أسرانا البواسل وفي العين دمعتان دمعةفرح لاستقبال أسرانا المحررين ودمعة لوعةعلى لقاء أحبتنا الذين لم تشملهم الصفقة ‎#Palestine‏ ‎#Asra‏

@izzat_risheq: We welcome our brave prisoners with two types of tears in our eyes: one of joy for our freed prisoners and another of longing for those not included in the deal

Bringing us back to the reality of countless Palestinians, blogger Jamal Dajani reminds us:

@JamalDajani: Many of the freed Palestinian prisoners will be transferred to a large prison called #Gaza

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