Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The crimes of the prisoners to be released for ‘peace talks’


Today, Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams met in Washington to talk for the first time in three years and have reportedly agreed to a nine-month timeline for final-status negotiations.
For peace talks to resume between Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority insisted on a number of preconditions, one of which was the release of Palestinian prisoners.
It is a sad reflection on the realities of the Middle East that for the Palestinian leadership ‘peace talks' could only resume with the injustice of freeing duly convicted murderers and kidnappers, many of whom will no doubt receive a hero's welcome when they return home.
The Israeli Cabinet approved the measure (13 to 7, with 2 abstentions) to release 104 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords in phases over the nine-month planned period of negotiations.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an open letter to the Israeli public said it was "an incomparably difficult decision; it is painful for the bereaved families and it is painful for the entire nation and it is also very painful for me".  Hundreds of people gathered outside Netanyahu's Jerusalem residence to protest against the decision.
Israel's decision to release the prisoners is a good faith gesture that reflects the difficult price it is willing to pay for progress towards peace.  That price can be seen more clearly when you look at the list of horrific crimes committed by the prisoners who are likely to be released. The list of prisoners was published by the Palestinian Prisoners' Club (PPC) and reportedly leaked to Israeli websites by Israeli officials. Ben Hartman of the Jerusalem Post looked at the terrorist activities of some of these prisoners:
"Deep within the list are the names of two Gaza Strip natives, Yusef Said al-Al and Ayman Taleb Abu Sitteh, who late at night on December 31, 1993, broke into the Ramle house of David Bublil after he and an acquaintance, Haim Weitzman, had turned in for the night. They stabbed the two men to death as they slept and then mutilated their bodies, cutting off their ears as souvenirs.
That Ramle murder came a few years after 48-year-old Haim Taktuk disappeared without a trace in the central Israeli city. Five months later, investigators made their way to the Ramle home of Bashir Abdallah Khatib, where they found Taktuk's body buried inside the recently poured concrete floor of a storeroom.
Khatib, No. 23 on the PPC's list, is one of more than a dozen Israeli Arabs on the list, all of whom Israel expressed strong reluctance about releasing. These prisoners are typically seen as a greater security threat than their Palestinian counterparts, because their blue ID cards allow them the ability to travel freely across Israel.
Collectively, the small number of Israeli Arabs on the list are responsible for some of the most grisly crimes of the pre-Oslo years.
They include the four men from Wadi Ara - all members of the Islamic Movement - who took part in the infamous 'Night of Pitchforks.'
On the night of February 14, 1992, the four men infiltrated an IDF training base next to Kibbutz Galed and attacked a group of teenage Nahal recruits, hacking three of them to death with hatchets, knives and a pitchfork. The three men were sentenced to three life sentences each.
Othman Abdallah Bani Hasan and Haza'a Mohamed Sa'di, Nos. 9 and 10 on the list, have both been in Israeli prison since July 1985 for the murders of Afula school teachers Leah Elmakayis and Yosef Eliyahu, who were hiking in the North when they were ambushed and murdered.
Their bodies were found in a pasture in the Gilboa area.
The prisoners also include two West Bank men responsible for one of the most infamous attacks of the first intifada. Juma'ah Ibrahim Adam from Ramallah and Mahmoud Salem Kharbish from Jericho were arrested in October 1988 shortly after they threw a Molotov cocktail at an Egged bus north of Jericho, which burst into flames killing Rachel Weiss and three of her young children, including an infant boy. The bombing also took the life of soldier David Delarosa, who ran on board in a failed attempt to save the family.
In a similar incident, Mohamed Adal Daoud threw a firebomb at a car driven by Ophra Tal, killing her and her son Tal in December 1987.
The list also includes a number of men arrested for the murders of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians accused of being collaborators with Israel, including Yusef Abdel Hamid Irshaid, who killed five people suspected of collaborating as well as two men charged with the murder of Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agent Haim Nahmani, found stabbed and beaten to death with a hammer in Rehavia in west Jerusalem in January 1993.
The list also includes men who murdered neighbors and co-workers, employers and acquaintances.
Nablus-native Sharif Hasan Abu Dhailah will be set for release, after he, in May 1992, stabbed to death Avraham Osher, his employer of 15 years at Moshav Bakat. Osher was found stabbed to death in the date field he managed at a nearby moshav. Abu Dahila also worked at the date field, and the two men were reportedly longtime friends, with both visiting each other's families on a number of occasions.
Najeh Mohamed Muqbel of Hebron will be released after a little over two decades for the 1990 murder of attorney Ya'acov Shalom, the owner of the cafe where Muqbel worked as a cook.
Some of those on the list were terrorists who took part in more elaborate attacks.
Muayad Salim Hijja of Nablus has been in prison since May 1992, after he swam from the port of Aqaba in Jordan to the beach in Eilat, where he made his way to the Institute for Marine Sciences and shot to death the institute's guard, Yosef Shirazi, who was unarmed and 62 at the time of his death.
The list also includes Mahmoud Musa Issa, the head of the Hamas cell that kidnapped Border Police officer Nissim Toledano from his hometown of Lod in December 1992, and dumped his stabbed, beaten body in a field in the West Bank two days later, after a failed attempt to use him as a bargaining chip to secure the release of then Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
In another kidnapping in August 1990, Mohamed Yusef Shamasneh and Abdel Jawad Yusef Shamasneh of east Jerusalem forced teenagers Lior Tubul and Ronen Karmani into a truck near the Ramot junction and took them to a dry creek bed near Beit Hanina, where after a short struggle they stabbed both of them to death. Those two are toward the end of the list, Nos. 90 and 91, respectively."
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