The main reason negotiations over the release of Gilad Shalit ran aground on Monday was Hamas' return to its original demand for the release of 450 Palestinian prisoners whose names were on a list Israel had already received a year ago. Negotiator Ofer Dekel told cabinet members that Israel has agreed to release about 325 prisoners on the list, 144 of whom would be send abroad or to the Gaza Strip. The others would be allowed to return to their homes.
Minister Jacob Edery suggested to his cabinet colleagues that Israel publish the names of some of those whom it agrees to release and some who it is refusing to free. Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin agreed, saying, "It is important that the Israeli public see which murderers we are not prepared to release." The cabinet subsequently agreed to reveal the identities of more than 20 prisoners whose names came up in the negotiations. The Shin Bet yesterday released details regarding their involvement in terrorism.
Among those whom Israel refused to release are prisoners who headed the military wing of Hamas in the 1990s and during the intifada that began in 2000. Israel also refused to free Hassan Salameh, who was arrested in 1996 and sentenced to 48 life terms for his role as head of a Jerusalem-based Hamas group that carried out two suicide bombings on the Number 18 bus line in Jerusalem in 1996 as well as another suicide attack the same year in Ashkelon.
Israel has barred the release of Ibrahim Hamed, who led the military wing of Hamas in the West Bank during the Second Intifada. He was responsible for the deaths of 82 Israelis. Diskin told the cabinet that freeing Hamed would enhance the capacities of Hamas in the West Bank and noted that Hamed has said that he would return to terrorism immediately if he were freed.
Israel also turned down the release of Abbas Al-Said, the Hamas chief in Tul Karm, who was arrested in 2002 as the mastermind of the Pesach attack at Netanya's Park Hotel. Said confessed to fitting the suicide bomber in the attack with his explosive belt.
Among the others whose release Israel has rejected are Mahand Sharim, Said's deputy and one of the planners of the Park Hotel attack; Ra'ad Hutari, who helped plan several attacks including the suicide bombing at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium, which killed 22.
Also not to be freed are detainees involved in suicide attacks at Sbarro restaurant, Mahane Yehuda Market, the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall, Cafe Moment and a Hebrew University cafeteria, all in Jerusalem, as well as in Hadera, Tzrifin, Rishon Letzion and Tel Aviv.
On the other hand, Israel has agreed to release a number of terrorists involved in the murder of Israelis on the condition that they be deported. These include a prisoner implicated in a suicide bombing in Hadera that killed five, a prisoner involved in the 1995 murder of a soldier and the planting of a bomb in a Tel Aviv cinema in 1986, and another who planned a suicide bombing of a bus in Haifa which claimed the lives of 15 people.
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