Monday, September 24, 2007

More Palestinian prisoners to be released

From, Sep 23, 2007, by HERB KEINON AND YAAKOV KATZ:

It took two weeks more than expected, but the cabinet on Sunday approved the release of [another] 90 Palestinian security prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in honor of Ramadan. [
...Even as Israel decided to release prisoners, the IDF arrested on Sunday a Palestinian who was pardoned last month by Israel.]

A plan to discuss the issue at a cabinet meting on September 9 was scuttled at the last minute after a Kassam rocket slammed into the courtyard of a Sderot daycare center. The issue was expected to be raised the following week, but was postponed again following the Kassam rocket attack on the Zikim army base.

On Sunday, the release - which followed by some two months a previous release of 250 security prisoners as a goodwill gesture to Abbas - passed by a vote of 16-6.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz (Kadima,) Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Israel Beitenu,) and the four Shas ministers voted against the release. Israel Beitenu head Avigdor Lieberman was not present for the vote.

Olmert told the cabinet before the vote that the release would not impact on efforts to secure the release of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, since none of those freed were prisoners that Hamas was demanding. He said the prisoners would be released according to criteria established in the past, and that Israel traditionally released a number of prisoners for Ramadan.

...Mofaz, who was opposed to the prisoner release in July, told the cabinet that Israel hadn't received anything in return for the previous prisoner release, and wouldn't receive anything this time, either. "These are steps that send a signal of weakness and lack of determination, especially when talking about a release of prisoners from Gaza," Mofaz said. "We haven't seen anything change in the PA - the terrorism doesn't stop, the Palestinian security officials don't work, and they don't take any responsibility."

...Even as Israel decided to release prisoners, the IDF arrested on Sunday a Palestinian who was pardoned last month by Israel. Faris Nazar, a 21-year-old member of the Tanzim terror group, was apprehended at his home in Kfar Kalil, near Nablus. IDF sources said Nazar was among the 178 Palestinian terror suspects who were temporarily "pardoned" by Israel last month and given the opportunity to return to a normal life in exchange for surrendering their weapons and ceasing their involvement in terror activity. He was the first of those who received this amnesty to be re-arrested.

Central Command sources said Nazar was behind a number of recent bomb and shooting attacks against IDF troops in the Nablus area. The IDF said all of the pardoned fugitives were under constant surveillance and if they broke the agreement they would be arrested.

...Meanwhile Sunday, the IDF wrapped up a week-long operation in Nablus during which troops apprehended a suicide bomber as well as the head of Hamas in the city.

On Sunday, troops entered a home in pursuit of a terror suspect and found his pregnant wife sitting on their bed. The woman told the soldiers she could not move since she was fee ling unwell. The soldiers convinced her to get off the bed, under which they discovered a pit in which the fugitive was hiding.

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