Shalit prisoner swap gets underway

The High Court of Justice will hear petitions against the release of prisoners today.

The Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal has gotten underway. Yesterday, 16 Israeli prisons began to collect the 477 terrorists who will be released in the first stage of the swap for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit, who is due to return to Israel on Tuesday.

The full list of prisoners to be released was published on the Israel Prison Service website on Sunday, to enable opponents to file petitions against releases with the High Court of Justice.

A panel of judges, headed by Supreme Court President Judge Dorit Beinisch, together with Vice President Judge Eliezer Rivlin and Judge Hanan Melcer, will hear the petitions at noon today.

At the same time, the prisoners' filess were sent to President Shimon Peres and Minister of Justice Yaakov Ne'eman, for them to pardon the prisoners in the swap. Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met his special envoy for the Shalit negotiations, David Meidan, for an update on the agreement reached over the weekend in Cairo.

The 477 male and female prisoners listed on the Prison Service's website who will be released in the first stage include 280 prisoners with life sentences and 27 female prisoners. Israel will release an additional 550 prisoners of its choosing in the second stage.

131 of the male prisoners will go to the Gaza Strip; 55 will go to the West Bank or eastern Jerusalem, subject to certain restrictions set out in the agreement between Israel and Hamas; 18 prisoners will be deported to Gaza for three years; 45 prisoners will be deported to Gaza permanently; and six Israeli citizen prisoners will return to their homes in the country. One of the female prisoners will be deported to Jordan and another will be deported to Gaza.

On Friday, the main petition against the swap was filed by Almagor Terror Victims Association, joined by several bereaved families who lost relatives in attacks planned or carried out by prisoners scheduled for release. The petition contends, "This petition is also against the very decision of the wholesale release of murderers. In view of the dramatic number of terrorists and murderers with blood on their hands, including multiple murderers sentenced to several life sentences for the murder of dozens of Israeli citizens, we also appeal against the government decision as unreasonable and disproportionate."

The petitioners add, "This time, the government cannot contend diplomatic necessity, which usually exempts it from intervention by the High Court of Justice."

Despite high hopes, only a few other petitions have been filed, including one by the Schijveschuurder family, which lost five members in the attack on Jerusalem's Sbarro restaurant in 2001, and is demanding that the release of Elham Tamimi, who gave a ride to the terrorist in that attack and will be deported to Jordan under the deal, should be cancelled.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on October 17, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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