RNA - Hamas, in a statement released late on Thursday, stated that it “followed with interest the appreciated initiative announced by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi in a televised speech broadcast live from the Yemeni capital Sana’a, which marked the fifth anniversary of the Saudi-led aggression against its impoverished Arab country.
The Palestinian resistance movement then thanked Ansarullah for “the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity with Palestinian people.”
Hamas also reiterated its call on Saudi authorities to release all Palestinian prisoners, “on top of whom is Dr. Muhammad al-Khudari.”
The Palestinian movement noted that it has been contacting the Saudi leadership throughout last year in a bid to reach a deal on the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas concluded its statement by assuring that the Palestinian cause will thrive, calling upon Muslims worldwide to support the Palestinian people and their righteous cause.
“We are fully prepared to release one of the captured pilots along with four Saudi officers and soldiers,” Houthi said in a televised speech on Thursday afternoon.
“This will be in exchange for the release of those from Hamas arrested in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
On March 22, Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau, in a letter addressed to the Saudi monarch King Salman pleaded with him to make a quick decision and order the freedom of Palestinian detainees in Saudi prisons.
“In light of the pandemic of the novel coronavirus that has spread across the globe, due to fears for the lives of our honorable brethren and given all humanitarian and religious considerations … the release of the Palestinians becomes a humanitarian and national necessity. We are all confident that His Majesty will not hesitate to do so,” the letter read.
“We call on the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to make a long-awaited decision and release our fellow countrymen from prison.”
Palestinian families and human rights groups have called on Saudi authorities to immediately release the Palestinians, citing the threat posed by the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the highly contagious new coronavirus.
“We renew our call on the Saudi authorities to release all Palestinian prisoners in Saudi Arabia. Most of them suffer from chronic diseases and need medication on a regular basis. The lack of health care in the prisons threatens their lives,” they said in a joint press statement.
“In light of the intensified spread of coronavirus around the world, we ask the Saudi authorities to consider the release of these detainees in accordance with the Amnesty International's directives,” the statement added.
Families of the detainees, some of whom are in their 80s, say the Palestinians have been denied access to lawyers and visitation rights, and authorities have recently begun reducing phone call access.
Umm Qusai al-Haddad, who was born in Saudi Arabia but now lives in Gaza City, said she feared for the safety of her father Suleiman, 67, and her two brothers, Yahya, 40, and Muhammad, 38, all of whom have been in Saudi detention since 2018.
She said Saudi authorities had repeatedly withheld information from the family, including their recent court session on March 8.
Last month, the Prisoners of Conscience, a non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that Saudi authorities had launched a new campaign of "arbitrary" arrests against Palestinian expatriates living in the kingdom on charges of supporting Hamas.
On October 21 last year, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Arabic-language Shehab news agency that Palestinians being held at prisons and detention centers in Saudi Arabia are exposed to various forms of torture and cruel methods of interrogation.
“Unfortunately, there is a harsh investigation procedure against the detainees, some of whom are subjected to various forms of torture. Interrogators of different nationalities are questioning them,” he said back then.
“There are about 60 Palestinian detainees [in Saudi jails], and some of them are the sons or supporters of Hamas. Some of them have even lived more than three decades in the kingdom and greatly contributed to the construction of the country.”
He further noted that Hamas has made great efforts, either through contacts with a number of countries or Saudi officials, to secure the release of the Palestinian inmates but all to no avail.