Australia/Israel Review

The Price: Palestinian Prisoners released

Oct 31, 2011 | Sharyn Mittelman


Sharyn Mittelman

Four hundred and seventy seven Palestinian prisoners were released by Israel in the deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive by Hamas since 2006, with another 550 to be released in November. The prisoners include some of the most notorious terrorists perpetrators against Israel including individuals involved in the Sbarro and Café Moment suicide bombings, murderers of Nachshon Wachsman and the videotaped October 2000 lynching of IDF reservists Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami in Ramallah.

On October 17, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected four petitions against the prisoner swap deal to free Shalit. Among the petitioners were Ron Karmal, whose daughter was killed in a bus bombing in Haifa and Shvuel Schijveschuurder, a 27-year-old from Givat Shmuel who lost his parents and three of his siblings in the 2001 terror attack at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people. Also killed in the Sbarro attack was 15-year-old Malka Roth. Her Australian father Arnold and American mother Frimet launched an international campaign against the release of the Sbarro attack driver Ahlam Tamimi. Frimet Roth said, “Now, everyone knows that there is no justice here. You can murder and walk free…”

Israeli public opinion about the deal was inevitably mixed, even if more than three-quarters of those surveyed said they favoured it. The release of prisoners involved in terrorist attacks against Israelis including more than 280 with life sentences has been no cause for celebration. More than 100 are hardcore terrorists, serving multiple life-sentences for high-casualty suicide bombings. One estimate mentioned in the Israeli media was that those released were responsible for the deaths of 599 Israelis.

Of the 477 released, 205 residents of the West Bank were deported to either Gaza or abroad – mainly to Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

According to Israeli media (Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Israel HaYom), the Palestinian prisoners released included:

  • Yehia Sanwar and Jihad Yaghmur – involved in the kidnapping and murder of Nachshon Wachsman. Sanwar founded Hamas’ security unit in Gaza, and his brother was part of the group that planned the Shalit abduction;
  • Mohammed Shratkha – serving three life sentences, was the leader of a terrorist cell that captured and murdered Ilan Sa’adon and Avi Sasportas.
  • Walid Anajas – sentenced to 36 life sentences, was involved in the Cafe Moment bombing in Jerusalem in 2002 and in another terror attack in Rishon LeZion;
  • Nasser Taima – sentenced to 29 life sentences for the 2002 bombing of a Netanya hotel on Passover which killed 30 people and injured 140;
  • Yussuf Dhib Hamed Abu Aadi – convicted of stabbing IDF soldier Nir Kahana at the Qalandiya checkpoint in 2005 and sentenced to life in prison;
  • Nahid Abd al-Rauf al-Fakhuri – recruited suicide bombers in Hebron and was sentenced to 22 years in jail;
  • Ayad Musa Salem Abayat – convicted of being part of a group that killed IDF soldiers Lt. David-Hen Cohen and Sgt. Shlomo Adshina, and assisting the group that murdered Dvora Friedman in March 2003. He was sentenced to three life sentences;
  • Tamimi Ahlam – convicted of aiding and abetting the suicide bomber who murdered 15 civilians and wounded 140 in the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria;
  • Kamal Abd al-Rahrnan Arif Awd – convicted of placing a bomb in Netanya in 2001, which was discovered before it exploded, was sentenced to 19 years.
  • Ashraf Khalid Husain Hanani – arrested in 2006 in Jerusalem’s Old City carrying an explosive device, the military court sentenced him to 28 years;
  • Lui Muhammad Ahmed Awda – a Tanzim member who tried to organise a suicide attack in Jerusalem in 2003. The suicide bomber was shot and killed by Border Patrol officers. Awda was sentenced to 28 years;
  • Ibrahim Muhammad Yunus Dar Musa – took part in the attacks in Zrifin army base and the Hillel coffee shop in Jerusalem in 2003 by distributing to the media tapes of the suicide bombers, he was sentenced to 17 years;
  • Amjad Ahmad Muhammad Abu Arqub – recruited the man who carried out the attack in Carmei Tzur in 2002, in which two civilians and a female soldier were killed, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison;
  • Samir Faisal Sawafita – hid an explosive belt, and drove two suicide bombers who failed in their mission, sentenced to 30 years;
  • Ramzi Ibrahim Muhammad al-Ak – convicted over links to firing toward the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo, placing explosive devices, as well as bringing together a suicide bomber and a terror squad in a bombing which resulted in the deaths of two people, sentenced to 30 years;
  • Kabel Sami Mustafa Sha’abl – aided a suicide bombing at the entrance to the West Bank city of Ariel in October 2002, which resulted in the deaths of three people, sentenced to 25 years;
  • Massab Hashlemon – sentenced to 17 life sentences for dispatching two suicide bombers to Beersheva;
  • Chris al-Bandak – convicted of several shooting attacks which claimed the lives of two Israelis and seriously wounded a third in 2002;
  • Ibrahim Jundiya – sentenced to 12 life sentences for dispatching a suicide bomber to a Jerusalem bus in 2002 which killed eleven bus passengers;
  • Fadi Muhammad al-Jabaa – sentenced to 18 life sentences for plotting the suicide bombing of a Haifa bus in 2003, in which 17 passengers were murdered;
  • Maedh Abu Sharakh – convicted of plotting the Haifa bus bombing;
  • Mazen Muhammad Faqha – who plotted the 2002 suicide bus bombing near Safed, in which nine passengers were murdered and 40 wounded;
  • Hisham Ibrahim Hijaz – a Hamas member from Ramallah arrested in 2003, was sentenced to 10 life sentences for setting up a terrorist cell and using it to carry out a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Shilo. One Israeli was killed and two were wounded in the attack;
  • Amir Jabar Sharif Sawalma – of Nablus, arrested in 2003, was sentenced to six life sentences for an array of lethal terrorist acts. Sawalma carried out a shooting attack at an IDF checkpoint at Mount Gerizim in the West Bank, killing two IDF soldiers and injuring three. He also dispatched two suicide bombers and prepared their explosives belts at IDF positions, killing an additional two soldiers and injuring eight. Sawalma also sent a third suicide bomber to a civilian target. The bomber was stopped by a security guard, who was killed in the attack;
  • Ahmed Mustafa al-Najar – a Hamas terrorist convicted of murdering six Israelis by acting as a lookout in a terror cell that carried out shooting attacks;
  • Jabril Ismail – a Hamas terrorist operative, assembled a bomb and hid it in a radio. He placed the device at the entrance to an apartment building in Modi’in. A landlord was badly wounded in his hand and face in the attack. Ismail also plotted a suicide bombing at a gas station in the central Israeli town of Neveh Yamin in 2001. Two teenagers were murdered and four were wounded in the attack.
  • Ismail Musa Bahit, of Gaza – a member of the Popular Resistance Committee, he received 12 life sentences for murdering six Palestinians he suspected of cooperating with Israel and one Jewish vegetable seller.

Prior to their release, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a letter to hundreds of families of terror victims expressing empathy but stating that he was “faced with the responsibility of the Prime Minister of Israel to bring home every soldier who is sent to protect our citizens.”




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