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Ahlam And Nezar, A Palestinian Couple Released In The Prisoner Exchange

By       Message James Wall     Permalink
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"Let me share with you a funny story. I was sentenced with an extra year to my 16 lifetimes because I had a fight with an Israeli female prison guard. This incident kept me laughing for days, as if I would care less about an extra year added to my jail time of 1,548 years." Ahlam says, laughing.

"Arriving in Jordan, Ahlam says she was overwhelmed when large numbers of family, friends and fans came to Amman's Queen Alya airport to welcome her.

"I only met my family twice during my 10 years of jail time, which made me drown in despair sometimes. I missed them so much. Meeting my father and the rest of the family means the world to me," Ahlam says in tears.

"Ahlam says she already feels rejuvenated by being reunited with her family. "There is a whole new generation in my family that I missed out on. Photographs and names have turned into people that I am eager to know," Ahlam adds happily.

This then, is the story of three prisoners carefully selected by Israeli officials to be released from prison. Two of the prisoners, Ahlam and Nezar, were separately arrested, charged and sentenced by military courts. Each was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Their "crimes," for which a military occupying power had served as jury and judge, were identified and punished according to a military court in a system operated by an illegal occupation. Israel sees the prisoners as threats to the security of the State of Israel. The Palestinians who were sent to jail, on the other hand, saw themselves as resisting an occupying army, taking actions they believed appropriate to deal with that occupation.

What Israel did is what all occupying, colonizing armies do. They punished those who resisted their colonizing.

Palestinians, for their part, attacked their "enemy" with the same zeal as did Jewish "freedom fighters," such as the future Israeli Prime Minister Begin, when he fought British occupiers on behalf of what Begin and his fellow fighters saw as the freedom of the future state of Israel.

What this comes down to is a conflict of narratives, based on who is telling the story, the military occupiers or those who are resisting occupation/colonization.

Ahlam, 31, is younger than her husband, who is 38. Her brother, Fakhr Al Tammimi, remembers his sister as "a rebellious child with a strong personality. She never took the easy way and always thought out of the box. My sister had Palestine in her heart and always wanted to go back there."

Ahlam began her studies in media and journalism at Birzeit University in 1988, just at the time when the Second Intafada began. As a student, Ahlam worked for Al-Milad magazine and Al-Istiqlal television station, two local media outlets.

At Birzeit, Ahlam met a Palestinian student who inspired her. He was a Hamas member. In an interview with The Media Line, she said:

"I expressed my desire to join them. He told me he has to ask his superior because Ezzeldin Al-Qassam brigades have no female members. After a few days, he came with an approval, which made me the first female Ezzeldin Al-Qassam brigade member," Ahlam explains.

Her crime, for which she was sentenced by a military court for multiple life terms, was for "choosing the location and securing transportation to reach that location" for Hamas member Ezz Al Din Al Massri, 20,who blew himself up in Sabarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, killing 16 Israelis and injuring 150.

From Israel's perspective, Ahlam played a role in causing a massive act of murder. She saw it, initially, as an act of war. And of course, war itself is organized, sanctioned murder. There is no other way to describe it. There is no simple answer to the question of what separates murder from deaths caused in combat.

US and Israeli drone attacks are acts of indiscriminate killing of both targeted militants and innocent civilians. The victims of such killings cry for revenge, which in turn, leads to more deaths. The entire process is, finally, a senseless cycle.

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James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)

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