Israel names Palestinians to be freed

2011-10-16 18:11

Jerusalem - Israel on Sunday released a list of 477 Palestinian prisoners to be released as part of the deal to secure Gilad Shalit's freedom, many of whom were involved in bloody militant attacks.

Hundreds of them are serving life terms after being convicted of involvement in attacks, including the 2001 bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub that killed 21 people and an attack on a Netanya hotel where 29 people died a year later.

Details of the prisoners' identities were made public just 48 hours before the exchange was expected to take place, although the specific details of the handover were still being worked out, officials said.

Under the agreement signed last Tuesday, Israel is to free a total of 1 027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of the 25-year-old soldier, who has been in captivity in Gaza for more than five years.

If the deal goes through, it will be the largest number of Palestinian prisoners ever freed by the Jewish state to secure the release of just one person.

It will also be the first time in 26 years that a captured soldier has been returned to Israel alive.

Israeli President Shimon Peres received the files of the prisoners on Saturday evening to begin working on their official pardons, which must be signed before the exchange expected on Tuesday.

Israelis now have 48 hours to challenge the prisoner release, with the court system saying two new petitions against the deal would be heard at noon on Monday.

One group representing victims of attacks filed a two-part petition on Friday, challenging the principle of releasing so many security prisoners, and also filing suit against the release of individual prisoners.

The Israeli High Court has never overturned any government decision to free prisoners involved in militant attacks.

Israel was expected to celebrate Shalit's long-awaited return, although the 25-year-old was likely to be kept far from the public eye in the face of concerns about his mental health after being held incommunicado in Gaza since his capture in June 2006.
Read more on:    shimon peres  |  gilad shalit  |  israel  |  palestine  |  middle east peace
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