Israel Releases Yet More Palestinian Prisoners

Released Palestinian prisoner Hazem Shobair is welcomed home at Khan Younis camp in the southern Gaza Strip

 

After the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners completed Monday night, 32 Palestinians who were arrested before the 1993 Oslo Accords will remain in Israeli jails. They include 14 Arab Israelis; five residents of East Jerusalem; 10 from the West Bank and three from the Gaza Strip.

Two of the Israeli citizens, Karim Younis and Maher Younis, will begin their 31st year in prison next week, making them the longest-serving of all the Palestinians currently doing time for terrorism in Israeli jails. Both are from Kafr Ara, in the Wadi Ara region. They were convicted of involvement in the murder of soldier Avraham Bromberg of Zichron Yaakov in 1980. In July 2012, a parole board recommended commuting their life sentences to 35 to 40 years.

An uncle, Sami Younis, previously the longest-serving security prisoner, having been convicted of involvement in the same crime. But he was freed in the 2011 exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

The list includes five other Israeli Arabs arrested in 1986-88, at the beginning of the first intifada.

Also on the list are Juma Ibrahim Adam of Ramallah and Mahmoud Abu Harbish of Jericho, who were convicted of throwing firebombs at an Egged bus traveling from Tiberias to Jerusalem in 1988. That attack killed Rachel Weiss and three of her children, along with soldier David Delarosa.

Others on the list include Mahmoud and Nasser Abu Srur of Bethlehem, who were convicted of murdering Shin Bet security service agent Haim Nahmani in 1993, and Mohammed Daoud of Qalqilyah, who was convicted of throwing a firebomb at a car traveling near Alfei Menashe in 1987, killing Ofra Moses and her 5-year-old son, Tal.

The prisoners’ families are very worried that the fourth release will never take place, given the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the fact that the fourth release is slated to take place close to the end of the nine-month period allotted for the peace talks. Nevertheless, the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas office insists that all 104 prisoners on the original list will be released, as agreed with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before the talks resumed in late July.

Nevertheless, the Palestinian Prisoners Society claimed on Sunday that there were actually 107 Palestinian prisoners arrested pre-Oslo who hadn’t yet been released, three more than the 104 on the original list. Qadura Fares, the organization’s chairman, said the discrepancy stems from a dispute over whether the cutoff should be 1993, when the Declaration of Principles was signed, or 1994, when the Cairo Agreement – which fleshed out the declaration by stipulating the first Israeli withdrawals and the creation of the Palestinian Authority – was signed. Fares argued that the essence of the agreement brokered by Kerry last summer was not the release of a specific number of prisoners, but the principle that everyone arrested prior to Oslo must be freed.

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