Hizbullah swap deal reaches conclusion

Israel releases five Palestinian teens jailed for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.

nasrallah kuntar 224 88  (photo credit: AP)
nasrallah kuntar 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Five Palestinian prisoners were released Wednesday, The Israel Prison Service said, in the final stage of the prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah for captured IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose bodies were returned a month ago. According to the statement, the five left their prison in central Israel Wednesday bound for the West Bank. They arrived midmorning in the town of Tulkarm. All five were teenagers serving short sentences for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and were due to be freed next year. Four of them were imprisoned this year and one last year. They had between six and 14 months of their prison terms remaining. According to the UN-brokered deal, a month after Goldwasser and Regev were returned, Israel was to release a number of Palestinian prisoners whose number and identities Israel would determine. The earlier stages of the prisoner swap involved the release of Lebanese killer Samir Kuntar and four Hizbullah gunmen caught during the Second Lebanon War, as well as the bodies of 185 Lebanese and Palestinian combatants. It also consisted of an 80-page report delivered by Hizbullah on the fate of IAF navigator Ron Arad, who was captured alive in Lebanon in 1986. Wednesday's planned release of the five relatively low-level prisoners was seen as a reflection of Israel's dissatisfaction over the Arad report.