RAMALLAH – The family of Palestinian prisoner Ahlam Tamimi expects their daughter to be released in the upcoming days, and told The Jerusalem Post they consider the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange deal honorable.

Ahlam is sentenced to 16 life sentences for her role in the 2001 Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

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Ahlam’s brother Fakher is delighted that the Schalit deal guarantees the rights of both Palestinian and Israeli people.

“It’s our right to be happy for Ahlam the same degree the Israeli community has the right to be happy for Schalit,” the 53-year-old judge who lives in Amman told the Post.

Ahlam’s nephew, Faraj, 29, thinks Ahlam is already a hero.

Her brother Fakher agrees, saying, “She’s a freedom fighter just like the Israelis have heroes.”

Faraj does not expect Ahlam to go back to militant activities.

“After 11 years in prison, it’s time for Ahlam to have a life of her own,” her nephew told the Post.

Her father Aref told the Post he will not allow Ahlam to continue working in the political scene.

“I won’t encourage her; she’s 31 years old now, and engaged. She should look after her life,” he said.

He thinks she will not be allowed to go back to the West Bank, and it would be difficult to be politically active from Jordan. Other family members disagreed with him, saying this is Ahlam’s decision, and they expect her to become a political leader.

Ahlam is engaged to her second cousin Nizar Tamimi, 39, who is expected to be released in the first stage of the swap in the upcoming days. Nizar spent 19 years of his life sentence in Israeli prisons.

The family does not know how the marriage will happen, since they are unaware if Ahlam can go back to the Palestinian territories or if Nizar will be allowed to go out of it.

Her brother Muhammad, 36, will travel to Jordan tomorrow to welcome his sister. He told the Post that Ahlam will keep struggling to live with Nizar.

Their father, who lives in Jordan now, described Ahlam as a stubborn and courageous child, and said the family heard of her involvement in the Sbarro attack from the news.

“We thought she was going to her university; we never knew what she was up to,” said her father, who is in his mid- 70s.

Muhammad considers part of what drove Ahlam to take part in the Sbarro bombing was her aunt, who the family claims was killed by an Israeli soldier.

Faraj doesn’t believe Ahlam will be safe if she will be released.

“I think the Israeli government will try to assassinate her,” he said.

However Fakher, who lives in Jordan, thinks she will be safe there. He added that the family is not planning any celebrations yet since it is uncertain when she will arrive.

Ahlam convinced her family to return to the West Bank after living in Jordan. Now one sister and one brother settled in Nabi Saleh, a village north of Ramallah, while one brother and two sisters live alongside their father in Amman. Her mother died a week before Ahlam was captured in 2001.

When asked what message they would send to the families of the victims of the Sbarro attack, Ahlam’s family members said they would like to ask the Israeli people what do they say to the Palestinian families who lost their loved ones.

“We will not tell them sorry,” her nephew Faraj said, while her brother Fakher said he wished that the innocent civilians from both people stood together in the face of injustice.

Click for full JPost coverage of Gilad Schalit

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