Report: Israel to Free Prisoners in Exchange for Info on Missing IDF Soldier

Majdi Halabi is apparently at the center of amnesty deal; two prisoners who claim to know the location of his remains will be released, while another's legal defense will be funded by the state.

Israel's Justice Ministry is reportedly planning to grant amnesty to two convicted prisoners, and monetary compensation to another, in exchange for information regarding the location of a missing Israel Defense Forces soldier's grave, according to incications from the Justice and Defense Ministries.

According to the prisoners, the grave is that of Majdi Halabi, an IDF soldier from the Druze village of Daliat al-Carmel who has been missing since 2005, when he disappeared while attempting to hitchhike to his base.

Nizam Halabi, father of missing IDF soldier Majdi Halabi, in 2007.

However, it is not clear whether the information promised by the prisoners is reliable or if the body in question is that of Halabi.  

The deal was revealed by Channel Two News on Sunday night. According to the report, Ami Palmor, the head of the Justice Ministry's amnesty division, has already signed the unusual amnesty agreement, which is contingent upon locating the body of the missing soldier.

Under the agreement, a convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison and a convicted drug dealer would be released from prison, in exchange for a map marking the alleged location of Halabi's grave.

According to information from the Justice Ministry, the source of the information is another prisoner, who is currently serving two consecutive life sentences for two separate murder convictions.

His appeal is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court in November. Under the deal, he would hand over information about the location of the soldier's body in exchange for funds to cover his legal appeal, which would be provided by the state.

According to a legal source, however, the latter prisoner is demanding additional benefits, including monetary compensation, in exchange for handing over the information.

Majdi Halabi's family reacted skeptically to the reports on Monday, saying they had not received any concrete information about any such deal.

Nazmi Halabi, Madji's father, told Haaretz, "They are always getting us worked up about some prisoner giving information. We don't know if the information is accurate or inaccurate, and the whole issue is being investigated. We are being updated and waiting for the investigation, and we still don't know for sure whose body is it. Nobody told us anything."

Halabi said the defense establishment had contacted the family ahead of the report's broadcast on Sunday evening. "They called us so that we wouldn't be surprised. They said there would be an item on the news and that there is a gag order. They didn't tell us anything about the identity of the missing soldier," he said, adding that the family had experienced a sleepless night on Sunday.

"The prisoners look out for own interests. As far as we are concerned, our soon is still alive. That is our hope and that is what keeps us going, until it is proved otherwise," Halabi added.

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