Israel Names 477 Prisoners to Be Released

Israel has published a list of 477 Palestinian prisoners to be released in the first stage of a swap deal for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The list, released on Sunday by Israel’s justice ministry, includes the names of 450 Palestinian men and 27 women.

According to the list, most prisoners will return to their homes in the illegally occupied West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

But some are categorised as being released under a "security arrangement" or to be "relocated" to the Palestinian territories or "abroad". It does not indicate to where those prisoners would be deported to.

A Hamas-affiliated website had published a list of prisoners slated to be released on Friday.

Top Brass

In comparing that list to what was released on Sunday, many Gazans expressed surprise at the extent to which Hamas had conceded to Israel, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reported.

"We were told by some senior members of Hamas that they expected six senior [officials] – sort of top brass – from the al-Qassam Brigades, the group’s military wing, to be returned to Gaza," she said.

"But as it turned out out, they’ve managed to receive only one of these top brass figures – Yihia al-Sinwar – one of the founding members of the al-Qassam Brigades."

Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, has received the files of the hundreds of prisoners and has 48 hours to sign the pardons to officiate the release, a presidential spokeswoman said.

Later on Sunday the Israeli prison authority began transferring Palestinian prisoners detained in various jails to gather them at Ktsiyot and Hasharon prisons in southern Israel, an authority official told Al Jazeera.

On Tuesday, the day of the exchange, prisoners will be transported to various military checkpoints between Israeli and Palestinian territories.

Those ordered for deportation abroad will be sent to Egypt, the transit point from which they will carry on to their final point of destination.

The 48-hour gap in releasing the list of names on Sunday and the prisoners themselves on Tuesday, is a move by Israeli officials to give its public a chance to lodge any legal appeals against the deal which will see the return of Shalit, who has spent more than five years in captivity.

Protests Planned

Relatives of victims of Palestinian attacks are planning to hold protests demanding cancellation or at least a delay of the deal, Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry reported.

"Certainly within the next 48 hours you’re going to see these protests outside the court in Jerusalem by the families as we approach the release," he said.

Israel’s top court has never in the past overturned any government decision to free prisoners involved in attacks against Israelis.

Shalit, 25, was captured in 2006 in a Hamas-led border cross raid. His location remains a mystery, although he is believed to have been held in the Gaza Strip.

The last video evidence that Shalit was still alive was in 2009.

Among the Palestinian prisoners to be released are many who have been convicted for plotting suicide bombings inside restaurants and buses as well as shooting attacks that killed many Israelis.

One prominent name is Ahlam Tamimi, who worked as a reporter with a local television station before joining Hamas, the Palestinian faction which rules the Gaza Strip.

She received 16 life sentences for helping choose places for suicide attacks and was accused of taking bombers to some of the locations, including a Jerusalem pizzeria in 2001, where 15 people were killed.

Also to be released is Mohammed al-Sharatha, a leader of the Hamas special elite fighting unit "101" which kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in 1989. The two were killed.

Al-Sharatha was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to three life terms and a separate 30-year-term.

Nasser Iteima, who was behind the bombing of a Netanya hotel in 2002 that killed 30 people and wounded 140, will be released.

As will be Walid Anjes, who was jailed for orchestrating a bombing at the Moment cafe in Jerusalem that killed 11 people and maimed dozens that same year.

Another 550 Palestinian prisoners are to be released within two months as the second round of the landmark deal.
(Al Jazeera and Agencies)

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