After 17 years of imprisonment, Major General Fouad Al-Shobaki, also known as the Sheikh of the prisoners, is finally released today, March 13, 2023, after 17 years of Israeli detention.
Who is Fouad Al-Shobaki?
Al-Shobaki is considered the oldest Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli detention, having been detained in 2006 and sentenced to 20 years, which was later reduced to 17, in prison for his role in the failed attempt to smuggle the Karen A weapons ship from Iran into the Gaza Strip in 2002.
The military court of the occupation sentenced him to 20 years in prison, which was later reduced to 17 years in 2015 after several appeals were made considering his current health conditions and age.
Al-Shobaki suffers from many health problems, including in his eyes, stomach, heart, and high blood pressure. His wife died in 2011, and he was forbidden to say goodbye to her. He has six children and nine grandchildren, most of whom he does not know.
Why was Fouad Al-Shobaki detained?
Al-Shobaki was responsible for the central military financial administration in the Palestinian security services and was a member of the Fatah movement. He joined the movement and moved with it to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Tunisia.
However, he was kidnapped by Israeli occupation forces on March 14, 2006, from Jericho prison, along with the Secretary-General of the Popular Front, Ahmed Saadat, and their comrades.
The Karen A shipment:
The Karen A shipment was considered one of the main reasons for the siege of the headquarters of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Ramallah on March 28, 2002, for 35 days.
Secretary-General of the Popular Front, Ahmed Saadat, and a group of Palestinians accused of killing Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, were also present at the headquarters. At the time, Arafat refused to hand over Al-Shobaki and his companions to the Israeli side until an agreement was reached under the auspices of the United States and Britain.
The agreement stipulated that Al-Shobaki, Saadat, and the group accused of killing the Israeli minister would be transferred to Jericho Prison, provided that they would be under US-British guard. However, Israel attacked the prison in 2006 after the sudden withdrawal of US and British forces from it and arrested Al-Shobaki and the other prisoners.
Fouad Al-Shobaki’s release:
Al-Shobaki’s release from Ashkelon prison marks a significant moment for the Palestinian people, who have long struggled for justice and the release of political prisoners. The reception of Al-Shobaki in Ramallah was undoubtedly a momentous occasion, as he reunites with his loved ones and is welcomed back into his community.
However, it is also a reminder of the ongoing injustices faced by the Palestinian people, who continue to live under occupation and face daily challenges to their freedom and human rights.
The release of Al-Shobaki after 17 years in captivity should serve as a catalyst for renewed efforts toward peace and justice in the region.
The international community must continue to work towards a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict, one that respects the rights and dignity of both peoples and ensures a secure and stable future for all.