Wafa al-Ahrar deal: A historic victory and a hope for new swap agreement

4 months ago

The Palestinian people are celebrating the ninth anniversary of Wafa al-Ahrar swap deal, one of the most prominent exchange agreement between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli occupation. 

Social media will be swamped with images of freed Palestinian detainees boarding buses and al-Qassam Bridges commander Ahmad al-Jabari, the deal’s architect, reflecting a widespread Palestinian joy over this historic achievement.

Nine years ago today, the Palestinian resistance released Israeli occupation soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian detainees.   

The Palestinian resistance reached this swap agreement, brokered by Egypt, on 11 October 2011.

A week later, the exchange took place in one of the largest prisoner swap deal struck by the Palestinian resistance to release Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons.

The agreement was seen as a success for the Palestinian resistance who managed to hold the Israeli occupation solider for more than five years and push the Israeli occupation to hammer out a swap deal to release him.

Successful deal

June 25, 2006 was a memorable day in which the Palestinian resistance captured Israeli occupation solider Gilad Shalit during a joint operation carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades, and the Army of Islam.

Shalit was captured from inside his tank east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the freedom fighters Hamed al-Rantisi and Mohammed Farwaneh were killed by Israeli occupation forces during the operation.

Conducted in less than 15 minutes in an Israeli military post in eastern Rafah, the operation reelected high military competence and meticulous pre-planning.

In the first stage of the deal, 450 Palestinian detainees and 27 women were released from Israeli prisons in exchange for the captured Israeli occupation soldier, whereas in the second stage 550 others were freed.

Prior to the swap agreement, the Israeli occupation authorities released 20 Palestinian female detainees from its prisons in return for a video proving that Shalit is alive.   

Historical achievement

The Wafa al-Ahrar swap deal is deemed a historic accomplishment for the Palestinian resistance that reflect a bright sense of unity as it included the release of prisoners from various Palestinian factions and some of the longest-serving detainees.

In addition, detainees from the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories, in addition to the occupied Golan Heights were freed under this agreement. 

Throughout his capture in the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, the Israeli occupation failed to identify Shalit’s location even though it had dedicated all of its intelligence services to find any lead on his whereabouts.

The Palestinian resistance has managed to force the Israeli occupation to break long-standing taboos against not releasing some of the longest-serving Palestinian detainees and female prisoners in its jails.     

New swap deal

During the 2014 Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, the al-Qassam Brigades captured a number of Israeli occupation soldiers, raising hope of a new prisoner exchange agreement to free thousands of Palestinian detainees incarcerated in Israeli prisons. 

Hamas has refused to enter into talks to hammer out a new swap deal before the Israeli occupation release all former detainees who were rearrested after being freed under the Wafa al-Ahrar agreement.

In previous statements, the al-Qassam Brigades stated that the Israeli occupation government was “lying and deceiving its people” about the fate of the Israeli occupation soldiers captured in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Later, head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh said that his movement is willing to negotiate a prisoner swap deal with the Israeli occupation through a third party.

In a televised speech, Haniyeh assured families of Palestinian detainees to release their sons.

The Palestinian resistance continues to offer its people a ray of hope for a future with no occupation in which Palestinian detainees will enjoy their freedom.