The ministerial team headed by Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, which was trusted with the selection of 26 Palestinian terrorists to be released today, ignored the recommended list submitted by Israel’s security service Shabac (GSS) and replaced some of the names in order to “bolster the prestige of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas’s nom de guerre),” a senior official in Jerusalem told Ma’ariv.
Tonight Israel is expected to release the first batch of 26 Palestinian prisoners, most of them with Jewish blood on their hands, as part of its commitment to release 104 terrorists captured before the Oslo accords. Fourteen prisoners will be released to the Gaza Strip—even though the PA, with which Israel is negotiating, has no influence at all there—and 12 will end up in Judea and Samaria.
The next release phase is expected to take place in about three months.
The GSS chief submitted to the ministerial team appointed to select the prisoners to be released a list of 40 prisoners who could be released. The two criteria used by the GSS to select the names was their level of danger to the Jewish community, as well as their “prestige” among the Palestinian public, so that their release would bode well for PA Chairman Abbas.
But, according to a high level official involved in the process, the ministers rejected some of the names the GSS suggested. The key consideration the security agency used was how dangerous individual prisoners were, while the ministers insisted on weighing heavily in favor of “big name” terrorists.
It should be noted, however, that the most dangerous terrorists are being held back until the fourth phase of prisoner releases, which should coincide with the actual signing of a final peace agreement, and certainly not this time around.
The first batch, to be released today, Tuesday, include mostly veteran prisoners, who are older, and some of them are quite ill. Eight of the prisoners being released were scheduled to be paroled over the next three years, two of them in six months.
After the Supreme Court has informed the terror victims’ families last week that it would not intervene in what it views as an executive decision, the president is expected to sign the pardons today.
Victims families are outraged today, because some of them have been skipped when government representatives went about informing families that the killer or killers of their loved ones were to be released—a process undertaken universally when a serious offender is about to go free. Some of the families heard only over the radio about the release of the murderers who destroyed their lives.
According to Ma’ariv, Dr. Gila Molcho, whose brother, attorney Ian Sean Feinberg, was murdered in Gaza in 1993 at age 30, was stunned to find out on the Internet that his killer, Abdel-Aal Sayid Ouda Yusef, was being released after having served 20 years.
“No one told us, no one updated us,” Molcho told Ma’ariv. “Unfortunately, we’re used to the fact that no one counts the bereaved families… This family is turning a deaf ear to the feelings of the bereaved families. We are very important on Memorial Day, when everybody talks about us, but at all other times we don’t count.”
“They’re releasing murderers as a gesture,” she added. “These are murderers who will later become leaders, urging more and more people to the path of murder and killing.”