High Court Rejects Appeal Against Palestinian Prisoner Release

Ali Waked; Aviad Glickman; Raanan Ben Zur

High Court Rejects Appeal Against Palestinian Prisoner Release

Court says it has no right to rule on ‘matter of the State’, prisoners to attend Ramallah ceremony in their honor before heading home. Palestinian minister: Release signifies breaking down of criteria Israel was so adamant about



The High Court of Justice rejected Sunday evening a petition filed by the ‘Almagor’ organization, which claimed that the Palestinian prisoner release scheduled for Monday should be canceled.

The court explained that it had no right to rule on the issue as it is a matter of the State.

The 199 prisoners slated for release, including senior Tanzim figure Hussam Khader, were to be transferred to the Palestinian territories and take part in a special ceremony that will be held in their honor at the Muqata compound in Ramallah before heading home.

However after 198 of them were transferred to Ofer Prison near Ramallah to await their release, the final prisoner’s pardon was revoked due to the discovery that there are criminal charges pending against him.

Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs Ashraf al-Ajrami responded to the prisoners’ release with a moderate tone, saying the number of Palestinian inmates to be set free was “relatively small compared with the 9,000 prisoners that remain in prison.”

However he maintained that the pardons signified “the breaking of traditional criteria Israel had been adamant about.”

Al-Ajrami was referring to the fact that two of the prisoners to be released belong to the category Israel refers to as having “blood on their hands”, Sayed al-Ataba, Fatah operative jailed for 32 years for the murder of one Israeli and the injuring of 33, and Abu ali-Yata, detained in 1980 for the murder of an Israeli and a Palestinian suspected of collaborating with Israel.

Al-Ajrami claimed that the fact that these prisoners were pardoned “is a very important point for the Palestinian Authority, and could provide an opening for the future.”

‘Saddened Sons Won’t Be Freed’

Several West Bank families were disappointed to hear that their loved ones were not on Israel’s list of Palestinian prisoners slated for release as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“I am happy for the prisoners who are being released, but saddened by the fact that my sons will not be freed,” said 60-year-old Umm Muhammad Shtiwi, the mother of three Palestinians who are currently imprisoned in Israel for their involvement in terror-related activity.

“I prayed that at least one of them would be set free, so that we’d experience a little happiness too.”

Asked by Ynet whether she regretted that her sons had chosen the path of terror, Shtiwi said “No, I am not sorry; this is their fate, but when they will finally be released it will be a different story – they will not return to the activity in the organizations. Enough.

“We have sacrificed enough. Very few families have sacrificed what ours has – three sons in jail, another one who is on the run and another who was a hero and died as a shahid,” she said.

Court Allows Olmert’s ‘Goodwill’ Release of 199 Arab Terrorists

Gil Ronen; Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Court Allows Olmert’s ‘Goodwill’ Release of 199 Arab Terrorists

The High Court has rejected a plea against the release of 199 terrorists, including those behind deadly attacks. Olmert will free them Monday.

Israel National News


The High Court Sunday night rejected the Almagor terror victims association appeal against the release of another 199 Arab terrorists hours after two judges scored the government for its urgency in freeing them and the use of “slogans” that preclude a proper judicial review of the issue.

However, its final ruling accepted the government position that the decision was in the political and diplomatic area in which the court should not intervene. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has scheduled the release for Monday, the same day that American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to arrive for one day of talks with him and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on a final status agreement for a new Arab country within Israel’s current borders.

“The pain and sorrow of the families who lost their relatives in terror attacks is understandable and touches the heart,” the state wrote the court. “Sadly, these people paid the price of terror and the state cannot heal their pain. However, this petition deals with a matter that is… located in the center of the political and diplomatic arena.”

The state’s attorney also explained that “the government’s decision regarding the prisoner release was taken in order to advance the diplomatic process vis-à-vis the Palestinians and with an aim toward strengthening the ties with the PA Chairman and the Palestinian Prime Minister.

“By releasing the Palestinian prisoners the State wished to make it clear that it is aware of the importance of the question and also to make it clear that Palestinian prisoners can be released through dialogue and not just through force or abduction of soldiers.”

The PA is planning a mammoth homecoming celebration for the prisoners, who include the terrorists responsible for the attack on a Petach Tikva market 30 years ago, in which the mother of Israel Philharmonic Orchestra violinist Zinovi Kaplan was killed.

Unlike previous terrorist releases, the Arabs have not signed any agreement not to return to terrorism. Several of their family members said they would not return to the path of violence, but Almagor has pointed out that a large percentage of terrorists freed in past have returned to terrorism, including many who signed pledges they would stay clear of anti-Israel attacks.

The government stated after the court decision, “Through this latest confidence-building measure, which addresses an issue of critical significance for the Palestinians, Israel seeks to intensify its continued dialogue with partners who are both committed to diplomacy and opposed to terrorism. The release further underscores Israel’s willingness to make painful concessions for the sake of advancing peace negotiations.”

State Tells High Court Prisoner Release Is in Power of Executive Authority

Aviad Glickman

State Tells High Court Prisoner Release Is in Power of Executive Authority



The State on Sunday submitted its answer to a petition filed by the Almagor Terror Victims Association against the decision to release 199 Palestinian prisoners.

According to the response, the prisoner release is a declared political issue which is in the power of the executive authority, and the Supreme Court has refrained from intervening in its several times.

Olmert to Release Two Arab Murderers

Hillel Fendel

Olmert to Release Two Arab Murderers

The list of 199 Arab terrorists – including 2 killers – to be freed as a gesture to Fatah has been publicized by the Israel Prison Service.

Israel National News


(Flash 90)

The list of 199 Arab terrorists who are slated to be freed in the coming days as a gesture to Fatah was publicized on Monday afternoon. The Israel Prisons Service list includes the murderers of Yehoshua Saloma and Tzila Galili. The Almagor Terror Victims Association promises to sue in the Supreme Court against the release.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided on the release several days ago, and the decision was approved in the Cabinet on Sunday. Only Minister Sha’ul Mofaz (Kadima) and the four Shas Party ministers voted against the move.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima), who voted on Sunday for the release, voted on Monday in the relevant special Ministerial Committee against releasing the two murderers.

Spokesman Explains: Long Sentence, Low Risk

The Cabinet spokesman explained that the list of 199 terrorists was determined “in accordance with the criteria set by previous government decisions, namely, no release of those prisoners with blood on their hands belonging to Hamas or Palestinian Jihad.” He added, however, that the two murderers were released as an “exception to the criterion of ‘no blood on their hands’ as a gesture to Palestinian Authority chief [Mahmoud Abbas] in consideration of the long sentence they have served and the opinion of the security forces that the risk resulting from their release is low.”

Various Types of Attempted Murder

Among those to be freed are 26 who were convicted of attempted murder, and 47 others convicted of “shooting at people.” Other convictions include kidnapping, kidnapping for the purpose of murder, planting bombs, and the like.

Some 25 of the terrorists to be released were sentenced to terms ranging from 10 to 16 years, indicating the severity of their crimes.

The two murderers to be freed are Ibrahim Mahmoud Mahmad and Said Atbari. Mahmad, arrested in 1980, murdered a yeshiva student/army soldier named Yehoshua Saloma in Hevron the same year; Saloma had made Aliyah without his family from Scandinavia. Mahmad committed his second murder in jail when he slashed the throat of a fellow Arab prisoner he suspected of collaborating with Israel.

Atbari, in jail since 1977, planted bombs in several places, including one in an outdoor market in Petach Tikvah that killed Tzila Galili. Galili’s son Zinovi Kaplan is a violinist in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. “Those who elected such a government shouldn’t be surprised that terrorists are being freed,” Zinovi said upon learning that his mother’s killer was to be released.

Indor: We Will Sue, Gather Info, and Remind the Public Who Released Whom

Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror Victims Association told Israel National News, “First of all, we plan to file a suit with the Supreme Court against this scandalous decision. We do not expect to win, but we have been told by people high up in the system that if it were not for our protests and petitions to the Supreme Court, many more terrorists, guilty of very serious crimes, would have been freed …”

“We plan to take the law into our hands, in the positive sense of the phrase,” Indor said. “We have had bitter experience with the 180 victims of terrorism who have been killed by terrorists freed in one exchange or another. We will gather information on every single convicted terrorist, find out which jail they are in and which luxuries they receive in prison, and we will be in contact with the families of those they have murdered, and we will thus keep this matter in the public awareness. The Prison Service people, and those in the General Security Service, support us, because they are sick and tired of these releases; the GSS works hard to arrest them, and then they are freed just like that …”

“To accomplish this, by the way, we need volunteers, who will be willing to go to the Justice Ministry and ferret out the information, with our guidance. Those interested should call 02-538-8999.”

Remembering Shas

Indor said that his group will also make sure the public does not forget which Cabinet ministers voted for the release: “Especially Shas – they make all sorts of protests, and vote against, but they remain in the government and refuse to bring it down, because they think that getting money for their Torah schools justifies all. I debated a Shas official on the radio; I told him that I had always learned that when it comes to pikuach nefesh, life-threatening situations, one must close his Talmud and take action.”

Hamas and the Release

Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim explained that the release of the Fatah terrorists will pressure Hamas to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit faster: “Hamas is under pressure,” Boim said, “because it sees the Fatah prisoners going free, while its members are still in prison. This will encourage them to come to a deal with us for Shalit.”

Indor ridiculed this claim: “The name of the game is prestige. When Hamas sees 200 Fatah prisoners being let out for free, it will make sure to get many more of its own prisoners, so that its people will see that it can do better than Fatah. And Prime Minister Olmert – this is all a lowdown tactic of his so that later, when he releases more murderers for Shalit, he’ll be able to say, ‘We have already released two murderers for free, or for dead bodies [Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser] – but now we’re releasing murderers and receiving a live soldier in exchange.’ It is a disgusting trick, and places every Israeli citizen in danger.”