Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip in Rafah on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

War was temporarily sidelined for 96 hours to free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons on one side and Israeli and foreign captives on the other as part of a negotiated “truce” between the Zionist State of Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian resistance group.

After weeks of bloodshed the temporary ceasefire allowed for the release of 50 women and children held captive by Hamas, and 150 Palestinian women and teenagers held captive in Israeli prisons, and to permit unhindered humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

At Final Call presstime an agreement to extend the pause was reached by negotiators from Qatar and Egypt. “The State of Qatar announces, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip,” said Dr. Majed Al Ansari, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesman via X (Twitter).

Red Cross/Red Crescent busses began transporting 39 Palestinian women and children freed from the Ofer prison in the Occupied West Bank on Nov. 24. Hours before, vehicles transported 24 freed captives—13 Israeli, 10 Thais, and one Philippine national. The Qatar-brokered deal came seven weeks into the savage war that brought record deaths, injuries, destruction, and war crimes including alleged ethnic cleansing and genocide. Some activists argued it could have come sooner.


“These are the exact terms that were offered by the Unified Palestinian Resistance from day one, on October 8,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, National Chair of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) in a statement. “Israel rejected it, and instead pursued a criminal bombing campaign—a campaign of revenge, a genocide supported by the U.S.,” he said.

Mr. Abudayyeh explained the resistance offered to release some elderly and infirm captives on humanitarian grounds on October 24, which the Israelis also refused. “They rejected the chance to stop the killing!” said Mr. Abudayyah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to extend an extra day for every 10 additional captives that Hamas releases. However, he also vowed to resume bombing “with all of our might” once the truce expires. Although Israel seeks a “day-by-day” assessment, Hamas wants increments of four-day extensions. Analysts say satisfying the arrangement poses a difficulty factor for Hamas, as some captives are scattered among other resistance groups and actors.

As global demands for a total ceasefire grow, for Israel the truce did not mean days of peace, only no bombs dropping on Gaza. Despite the truce, notorious night raids on the occupied West Bank continued. On the second night of the ceasefire, Israeli forces fatally shot five Palestinians in the city of Jenin and on the third day killed three others elsewhere in the West Bank, reported Al Jazeera. Six Palestinians were injured in the Israeli raid in Jenin.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Israeli forces stormed Jenin “from several directions, firing bullets and surrounding government hospitals and the headquarters of the Red Crescent Society.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, have long warned about such a recalcitrant mindset. In His illuminating book, “The Fall of America,” Messenger Muhammad explained the penchant for bloodshed.

“It is dangerous to add fuel to an unwanted fire. THE FIRE IS THE WAR,” wrote the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. “We do not hope for peace as long as we add to the war that which serves as fuel to a fire,” He wrote.

“The fire cannot go out as long as we keep it burning by adding more fuel. A dying, burning fire is increased when more fuel is thrown into it,” Messenger Muhammad wrote further. He said peace cannot be expected where the method used to bring peace is the same that started the war—instead of finding the right solution, then practicing it.

By Final Call presstime nearly 15,000 Palestinians had been killed including 5,500 children. Although there was widespread criticism of the Palestinian resistance taking captives, Israelis confining thousands of Palestinians including children has not been as amplified. Currently, there are 8,000 Palestinians languishing in prisons according to the Palestinian Prison Society, and many are uncharged or tried in courts. Many are children and women.

These are the faceless ones of Israeli occupation. Many were arrested in night raids common to the occupier defense force. Some were charged with stone-throwing. Some were arrested although they were not part of protests or resistance. Most were kept isolated from family and legal representation.

A report issued Nov. 24 by the Ramallah-based ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association said within the continuous arrest campaigns in various Palestinian areas, there has been a noticeable and clear employment of tactics by the occupation involving torture through beatings, deliberate humiliation, intimidation, as well as the destruction of private and public properties during arrest operations.

Large numbers of occupation forces have been raiding Palestinian cities and villages since October 7, forcefully entering homes in a brutal manner. Often, doors are blown up, children are terrorized, and police dogs are used. Frequently, field interrogations are conducted inside homes, involving insults, shouting, and beatings in front of all family members.

At least 700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank are prosecuted every year through Israeli military courts after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army.

Children in Israeli detention often suffer physical, psychological and sexual abuse, and some are deprived of food, water and sleep, according to Save the Children

This is part of the backstory of Palestinian life under oppression. This was Palestinian life pre-October 7, and to some observers, a catalyst leading to October 7.

“I think it’s a clear and disgusting double standard that in the media, there’s just nonstop, wall-to-wall coverage of the situation of the Israelis who were taken captive during the October 7 operation by the Palestinian resistance,” said Walter Smolarek, an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition. “And no attention paid whatsoever,” he said, “to the plight of 8,000 Palestinians in prison in Israel. Many of them have been in prison for years and years and years, or even for decades,” he said.

Many Palestinians are held under “administrative detention” which means without charge nor trial, horrifically mistreated, and kept under horrific conditions. “It’s a gross violation of human rights,” argued Mr. Smolarek.

The ADDAMEER report said with the escalating pace of arrests and continuous raids on Palestinian cities and villages, the number of administrative detainees has significantly risen.

Since the beginning of November, the number of new administrative detainees increased to 295, bringing the total number of administrative detainees to more than 1,614 to date. A Nov. 16 news release by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated in part, “Grave violations committed by Israel against Palestinians in the aftermath of 7 October, particularly in Gaza, point to a genocide in the making, UN experts said today.

They illustrated evidence of increasing genocidal incitement, overt intent to ‘destroy the Palestinian people under occupation,’ loud calls for a ‘second Nakba’ in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, and the use of powerful weaponry with inherently indiscriminate impacts, resulting in a colossal death toll and destruction of life-sustaining infrastructure.”

No business as usual

When the temporary pause started and hostage and prisoner swaps began on November 24, anti-war groups continued placing pressure on the cynical proponents of war and mobilizing for a permanent ceasefire and an end to Palestinian genocide. They held a global day of protest to disrupt retail outlets on Black Friday, the most profitable day of the year for major corporate retailers.

“This movement is continuing to gain momentum and must intensify. We are not satisfied with simply a ‘pause’ for four days after 14,500 Palestinians have been murdered and entire cities have been leveled. There is no ‘pausing’ genocide and colonization,” said Yara Shoufani of the Palestinian Youth Movement. “The struggle will continue until Palestine is free,” she declared.

People in the streets argue there can never be any business as usual when the U.S. government sends $3.8 billion a year in military aid to Israel with an additional $14 billion in weaponry for genocide,” said Ms. Shoufani.

“The Palestine Solidarity Movement in the United States and all around the world is not going to stop until Palestine is free,” said Mr. Smolarek, speaking on whether the arrangement was a good one.

“Beyond the current war … what we’re seeing is an awakening of millions and millions of people to the true situation of the Palestinian people; what’s been going on for 75 years,” he added.

Mr. Smolarek believes the solidarity movement will continue to grow. He said the pause also opens up a crucial window of opportunity for people who care about justice to redouble their efforts.

“This is a moment where we can demand that we should turn the temporary pause in fighting into a permanent ceasefire that ends Israel’s genocide against Palestinians,” said Mr. Smolarek.