Abu TIr, children love him
Photo: Noam Moscowitz
Abu Tir character on Eretz Nehederet
Captive soldier Gilad Shalit
Photo: AP

Abu Tir summoned for questioning shortly after release

Sources close to Hamas official say he is wanted for questioning by Jerusalem police over remarks he made to media shortly after release. Meanwhile, head of campaign for captive soldier Gilad Shalit says soldier must be freed 'even at price of freeing prisoners with blood on their hands'

Senior Hamas figure Muhammad Abu Tir, who was released from an Israeli prison on Thursday, was summoned for questioning by Jerusalem police just hours after he arrived at his home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Tzur Baher adorned in a green Hamas cap and scarf.


Police officials refused to say what Abu Tir is suspected of, but sources close to the Hamas official said the interrogation was related to remarks he made to the media following his release.


Among other things, Abu Tir said his imprisonment was an act of revenge against Hamas after the Islamist group won the elections and was also part of Israel's efforts to prevent Hamas officials from visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in east Jerusalem.


Dozens of Abu Tir's relatives and friends welcomed him with candy, and shortly after celebrating his release, the commander responded to reporters' questions.


When asked if he planned to work to secure a deal for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, Abu Tir said, "This is not in my hands, it is in the hands of the leaders. The Israeli leadership must think about this." He added that he feels the Israeli leaders are sabotaging the deal.


The man, who is mainly known for his dyed beard, told reporters of the affection he receives from Israelis. He said that when he goes to the al-Aqsa Mosque to pray, "Israeli children in school and their teachers, they look, 'It's Abu Tir. Sheikh, can we take a picture?'.


"Why not," said Abu Tir, "It's an honor for a man." When asked if he is aware of why he is so well-known, the Hamas man said, "Yes, you know and I know, enough," referring to his portrayal on popular satirical show Eretz Nehederet. 


'Stop betraying Gilad' 

In response to Abu Tir's release, head of the campaign for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit Shimshon Libman told Ynet that he and his friends have once again come to understand that "we are actors in the State of Israel's theatre of the absurd."


He said, "Another leader in a string of Hamas leaders who were arrested after Gilad's kidnapping is going home. Is this madness in values or madness in the system, or simply lack of leadership and disregard for the covenant between the State and its sons?" Libman wondered.


"The State of Israel is a law-abiding, democratic state that cannot, and does not know how to apply pressure in the language of the brutal Middle East. This is something to take pride in, but we must also understand that in the absence of tools, we are committed to releasing Gilad even at the price of the release of many hundreds of prisoners with blood on their hands.


"We are committed to end this betrayal of Gilad and stop abusing his family and all our commitments to the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and their parents. This is our source of strength."


He added, "Abu Tir's release, for whatever reason, shows that there is no other choice, but to demand that our leaders make the brave decisions that show that we are strong thanks to the value that we have for life."


Abu Tir was released Thursday morning after serving a four-year prison sentence. He was arrested in June 2006, shortly after Gliad Shalit was kidnapped.


Ahiya Raved contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.20.10, 15:15
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