The High Court of Justice on Friday rejected a petition asking to delay the
second stage of the prisoner-exchange brokered with Hamas to release kidnapped
IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.
The release of 550 Palestinian security
to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is now set to proceed at 8 p.m. on
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In a unanimous ruling, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch,
Justice Asher Dan Grunis and Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said that the government
must “make good its commitment to the agreement it has signed and
In its response to the court, the state had said that with the
exception of two female prisoners, the 550 prisoners scheduled for release on
Sunday do not include Hamas or Islamic Jihad members, and that none of the
prisoners on the list were directly involved in any attacks that resulted in
death or injury. Four hundred of the prisoners on the list have served
two-thirds of their sentences, the state said.
Most belong to Fatah. They
were held for offenses as minor as stone-throwing or as serious as attempts to
Friday’s ruling, written by Grunis, noted that the court decided in October not to intervene in the release of 1,027
security prisoners as part of the first stage of the Schalit deal, after victims
of terrorism and their families filed High Court petitions opposing the
“The court did not intervene in the first phase [of the
deal]... and there is no reason to intervene now in the implementation of that
agreement’s second phase,” Grunis said.
The Israel Law Center (Shurat
HaDin) and terrorism victims Michael Norzich and Dr. Alan Bauer filed the
petition on Thursday, arguing that the government should formulate clear
criteria for determining which prisoners should be released.
petitioners conceded that Israel must honor the prisoner-exchange deal, but said
that as Schalit is now safe at home the government could delay the second phase
of releases while it established such criteria.
The petitioners asked for
an injunction ordering the government to publish the list of prisoners at least
14 days before their release date. This, they said, would give victims
sufficient time to check whether any prisoners scheduled for release were
terrorists involved in attacks that harmed them or their relatives.
petitioners noted that the Prisons Service published the prisoner list only on
Wednesday, just four days ahead of the scheduled release.
criticized the petitioners for not asking the state weeks ago to publish the
list of prisoners to be released, since they were aware the second phase of the
Schalit deal would take place two months after the first prisoner release in
The full list of prisoners can be obtained in English on the
Prisons Service website: www.shabas.gov.il/
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this