PBS Relays Sob Stories About Palestinian Prisoners, Lets Lie Go Unchallenged

News & Politics

Taxpayer-funded PBS relayed unverified sob stories about the release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel as part of its truce with Hamas terrorists, while letting a pro-Palestinian lie about tolerance of Jews in Arab countries go unchallenged, on Tuesday’s edition of the PBS News Hour.

Schifrin aired a denial by an Israeli prison spokesperson, then noted that Israeli police arrested the three them for “rock-throwing, causing serious bodily injury, damage to property, and hostile terrorist activity.”

Ahmed Al-Salaima, through an interpreter, sounded cagey about his guilt regarding throwing rocks at Israelis, which is not the harmless act the press treats it as.

After a brief clip from a press conference by the former head of the Israeli Prison Service Intelligence Division, Schifrin talked to relatives of Palestinian prisoners, who naturally denied any wrongdoing by their relatives.

Schifrin sympathized with Nawaf Al-Salaima, the father of the rock-thrower.

Schrifin didn’t challenge Nawaf Al-Salaima’s whopper about Muslims welcoming exiled Jews after the Holocaust. It’s depressingly obvious that Jews have been driven out or otherwise intimidated into leaving Muslim-dominated countries, as this story illustrates (look especially at the graphic labeled “Jewish Refugees From Arab Countries – An estimated 820,000 Jews fled violence and discrimination in their Arab homelands between 1948-1972”).

PBS NewsHour

12/5/23

7:28:11 p.m. (ET)

Geoff Bennett: More than 200 Palestinians detained or imprisoned by Israel were released last week during the truce between Israel and Hamas, among them, mostly women and children.

They are just some of the thousands of Palestinians held by Israel for a range of both alleged and convicted offenses. Nick Schifrin reports.

Nick Schifrin: This is the day the Al-Salaima family had been waiting for; 14-year-old Ahmed Al-Salaima is home in East Jerusalem after three months of Israeli incarceration, back in the protective embrace and watchful gaze of his father, Nawaf Al-Salaima, who told us this moment is bittersweet.

Nawaf Al-Salaima, Father of Ahmed Al-Salaima (through interpreter): We feel happiness because our child is free. But this happiness is not complete, because the price to get freedom for our kids was very expensive. And the price was our people’s blood in the Gaza Strip.

Nick Schifrin: Ahmed Al-Salaima was one of Israel’s youngest prisoners. He was released last week at the same time as his 15-year-old cousins Mohammed and Mutaz. Of the 240 Palestinians released during the pause in Gaza, nearly half were children.

Did the conditions of your detention change from before October 7 to after October 7?

Ahmed Al-Salaima , Released Palestinian Detainee (through interpreter): Before October 7, they treated us well. For example, they’d say hello and good night. They were respectful. But after October 7, they started hitting female prisoners. And they started to reduce the quantity of the food.

There were nine of us in the room, and they gave us two meals in small quantities. Before entering the jail, I was 158 pounds, but now I’m 121 pounds.

Nick Schifrin: An Israeli prison spokesperson told the “NewsHour”: “We are not aware of the claims you described, and all prisoners are detained according to the provisions of the law.” Ahmed Al-Salaima and his cousins live in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967. Israeli police first placed them under house arrest in may. In July, they bid their grandmother goodbye when police arrested them for — quote — “rock-throwing, causing serious bodily injury, damage to property and hostile terrorist activity.”

Police say his trial was still ongoing when he was released.

Ahmed Al-Salaima (through interpreter): There’s no proof at all that I was throwing stones at that time. I never used to leave the house at night. Israeli forces came to the house at 4:00 a.m., where me and my 12-year-old brother were asleep, and there’s proof that they took me from inside my home.

Tala Nasser, Addameer Prisoner Support: Currently, there are more than 7,600 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons. So this is an unprecedented number.

Nick Schifrin: Tala Nasser is a lawyer with Palestinian prisoner support and human rights organization Addameer. She said, since October the 7th, Israel had detained or arrested more than 3,000 Palestinians, including more than 200 children.

Tala Nasser: The occupation tries — and tries to silence the Palestinians, and that happens when the occupation arrests the possible number — the largest possible number of Palestinians.

Brig. Gen. Ilan Borreda (RET.), Former Head, Israeli Prison Service Intelligence Division: They are not innocent people, not at all.

Nick Schifrin: Last week, the Israeli government organized a briefing from retired Brigadier General Ilan Borreda, a military lawyer and former head of the Israeli Prison Service Intelligence Division.

Brig. Gen. Ilan Borreda: They made an act of terror. They were captured, they were tried and convicted in court by law, and they were in prison for making an act of terror.

Nick Schifrin: In the occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers administer justice. Advocates call those military courts unfair.

Tala Nasser: Palestinians are actually convicted in these courts at a rate exceeding 99 percent.

Nick Schifrin: And Palestinians in Jerusalem also call Israel’s civil courts unfair to Palestinians.

Nehaya Sawwan was released on the first day of the temporary truce and hugged her niece, Rouaa Jobran.

Rouaa Jobran, Niece of Released Palestinian Prisoner (through interpreter): My heart was broken when I see her the last — the first time.

Nick Schifrin: Sawwan had breast cancer when she was arrested. Her family says, in jail she didn’t receive any treatment and also became diabetic. Jobran says now she barely recognizes her aunt. Even though she’s now surrounded by family, she’s struggling with her recovery.

Rouaa Jobran (through interpreter): My aunt can’t sleep, and she has stopped talking to people. She entered the jail as someone, and she became a different person there. She’s someone else now.

Nick Schifrin: Israel denies any prisoner is mistreated.

Brig. Gen. Ilan Borreda: So, in prison, all of the prisoners, not only terrorists, all of the prisoners get medical care.

Nick Schifrin: But advocates say conditions have long been difficult, more so since October the 7.

Tala Nasser: We have documented many of the extensive violations, including violent raids by special forces, including firing the tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition, and brutally beating prisoners, actually.

Nick Schifrin: An Israeli Prison Service spokesperson says Nehaya Sawwan was convicted for supporting terrorism, serious bodily injury and illegal carrying of knives and daggers, and was sentenced to three years and eight months.

Her family says she was jailed as she prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Rouaa Jobran (through interpreter): She is a peaceful, nice person who treats others well. Even when she was first arrested, we didn’t believe it, because she was only trying to defend herself while she was in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Nick Schifrin: As for Ahmed Al-Salaima, he wants to be the shoulder to lean on for his doting mother, and he takes pride in being his father’s son.

Ahmed Al-Salaima (through interpreter): I want to follow in my dad’s footsteps. I want to go back to school and graduate. My father is a driving instructor, and I want to finish school, so I can help my dad test the student drivers.

Nick Schifrin: Nawaf, what do you want for your son’s future?

Nawaf Al-Salaima (through interpreter): I want him to be better than me. I know that he wants to help me and be a driver, but, for me, I wish him a better life. I will give him the freedom of choice, but I want him to finish his education. And the most important thing that I want him to be is a good person.

Nick Schifrin: But, this week, Nawaf Al-Salaima posted this video describing how Israeli authorities prohibited released prisoners from returning to high school.

Nawaf Al-Salaima (through interpreter): We want to ask, where are we going to take our children after today?

Nick Schifrin: Nawaf Al-Salaima is hoping the answer to that question is not another round of detention. For him, that is a generational fear.

Nawaf Al-Salaima (through interpreter): I spent 1993 and 1994 in the same prison that I took my son and his cousins to on July 30. I refused to take their mothers, because I didn’t want anyone to see my emotions and tears.

Nick Schifrin: So, how, sir, in your opinion, can this cycle end?

Nawaf Al-Salaima (through interpreter): The only way out of the tears and anger and woes is to end the occupation and to return to life before occupation, where we lived in one country as Palestinians, Jews and Christians, not the nationalists, but the Jews who know that Muslims welcomed them when they were exiled from countries around the world, when they left Europe because of the Holocaust, and we shared our lands and our lives.

Nick Schifrin: But there’s not a lot of hope these days for sharing or more releases, now that the fighting in Gaza has resumed.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Nick Schifrin.

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