Israel Re-arrests One in Six Palestinians Released to West Bank in Shalit Swap

Security services officials assert dozens of former prisoners have violated release conditions, but one ex-prisoner says Israel using kidnapping as excuse for roundup.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Israeli soldiers taking part in an operation to locate three Israeli teens near the West Bank City of Hebron June 21, 2014.
Israeli soldiers taking part in an operation to locate three Israeli teens near the West Bank City of Hebron June 21, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Israeli security services figures indicate that 55 Palestinians who had been released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have been arrested since the start of Operation Brother's Keeper.

A security official who spoke on condition of anonymity asserts that most of the detainees are Hamas members. Since the 2011 prisoner swap, Israel has re-arrested 131 of the 824 Palestinians released to the West Bank.

Most of the 76 arrested before Operation Brother's Keeper were suspected of violating their release conditions, such as returning to terrorist activities, failing to report monthly to the government coordination office in the territories or illegally entering Israel.

One of the prisoners released in the Shalit deal, Luay Najih Nofal, who spent 11 years in an Israeli jail, was released Saturday after being re-arrested during Brother's Keeper. He told Channel 2 in an interview Sunday night that the apprehension was a reaction, arresting people in the name of being careful.

"We felt it is an opportunity to return us to jail, and opportunity to restore the original sentence," he said of Israel's response to the abduction of three teenagers in early June. "I don't imagine that someone tied to the Shalit deal would be involved in these things. A person spent years in jail serving a sentence. It would be crazy (to return to terror), because then he would return for a life sentence."

Former prisoners who are re-arrested can serve their full sentence as meted out before their release. An administrative committee composed of military judges is authorized to re-impose the original sentence based on confidential evidence provided by the security services. The committee has received the names of 40 of the 55 former prisoners exchanged for Shalit that Israel has arrested during Brother's Keeper.

So far, the committee has only decided the fate of one of these prisoners, Saliman Abu Ayyad. Last week, the committee ruled that Abu Ayyad will remain in custody until it makes a final decision about his case. He is suspected of violating the conditions of his release by returning to illegal activities, according to an Israeli security official.

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