A woman named Israa Jaabis, who had been held in Israeli detention for eight years, was among the 39 Palestinians released under a prisoner exchange program. This program was part of a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas, facilitated by Qatar, Egypt, and the United States. Israa Jaabis, now 37, was convicted of detonating a gas cylinder in her car at a checkpoint, which injured an Israeli police officer.
According to Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, a traffic police officer noticed Israa Jaabis driving in the bus lane behind a police vehicle. They claim that a suspicious vehicle driven by Jaabis was detected approaching a checkpoint, and when asked to stop, she exclaimed “Allahu Akbar” and activated an explosive device in her car. Shin Bet also recovered handwritten notes from her that expressed support for “Palestinian martyrs.”
Both the Israeli police officer, identified as Moshe Chen, and Israa Jaabis were wounded in the alleged car bombing and taken to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. However, Palestinian authorities dispute these claims, stating that Jaabis was carrying household items in her car, including butane gas canisters for her kitchen. They argue that a mechanical failure in her car caused a fire that trapped her inside.
Israa Jaabis was sentenced to 11 years in prison in the same month she was born, in 1984. Her case became a symbol of resistance for Palestinian activists advocating for liberation. Her photo, featuring her partially burnt face, was used in protests demanding Palestinian independence.
Speaking about her release, Israa Jaabis expressed her reluctance to rejoice while Palestine is still suffering. She stated, “I’m ashamed to talk about rejoicing when the whole of Palestine is wounded. They must release everyone.”
This prisoner exchange is significant in the Israel-Palestine conflict, reminiscent of the 2011 event when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to free over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who had been taken hostage by Palestinian militants near the Israeli border.