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Prisoners Swap: Release of 450 Palestinians within One Week

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TEL AVIV, October 12, 2011 (WAFA) – The Israeli Cabinet approved Tuesday night a prisoners exchange deal with Hamas that will release the imprisoned Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for releasing more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, reported Israeli media.

The deal included the release of 450 Palestinian prisoners, including 280 with life sentences, within a week, and another 577 prisoners within two months, said the head of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet), Yoram Cohen, to Israeli reporters.

According to the framework of the swap agreement, 203 prisoners will be expelled from the West Bank, 40 of whom will be deported outside the Palestinian Territory, including Ahlam Tamimi and Amna Muna, while the remaining 163 will be deported to the Gaza Strip.

In addition, 131 Gaza residents will be released back to Gaza, and six Israeli Arab prisoners will be released to their homes.

Senior Hamas officials such as Abdullah Barghouti, Ibrahim Hamed, Abbas Sayed and others will not be released, along with Ahmed Saadat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Fatah lawmaker Marwan Barghouti.

During the second wave of releases, another 550 Palestinian prisoners of Israel’s choosing will be freed, said Haaretz newspaper.

Moreover, Yedioth Ahronoth’s website, Ynetnews, quoted Cohen saying, “Israel has not made a commitment to avoid targeting the released prisoners.”

Almost half of the released prisoners to the West Bank will live under restrictions, including prohibitions from leaving the West Bank and, in some cases, the towns in which they live.

Palestinian officials praised the important role of Egyptian intelligence in reaching the swap agreements, by communicating with Hamas officials and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in complete secrecy to free a large number of Palestinian prisoners.

R.Q./F.J.

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