Israel plans prisoner release as early as Sunday

Israel committed to a release of Palestinian prisoners in advance of the international parlay at Annapolis.

Prisoners 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Prisoners 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Israel Prisons Service would be prepared as early as Sunday to put Operation Fall Leaves - the name given to the release of 432 Palestinian prisoners - into action, IPS officers said Wednesday. Israel committed to a release of Palestinian prisoners in advance of the international parlay at Annapolis - set to begin next Tuesday - and late Tuesday night, the IPS released the list of prisoners who would be returned to the Palestinian Authority on early release. Late Wednesday afternoon, IPS commander Chief Warden Benny Kaniak held a situation assessment to plan the logistics of the upcoming release, and the IPS decided during that meeting that Sunday morning would be an optimal time to let the prisoners go. According to the IPS operational plan for the release, the prisoners will be amassed at the Ketziot Prison in the western Negev, where they will undergo medical checks, identity confirmation and sign a statement promising to avoid engaging in terror activities in the future. All but 16 of the prisoners will be loaded onto buses and transported by the IPS's elite Nachshon prisoner transport unit to the Beitunya checkpoint, southwest of Ramallah. The remaining 16 will be transferred a much shorter distance to the Erez checkpoint opposite Gaza City. The IPS emphasized that all of its plans were pending the final approval of relevant government authorities. Although the administration has emphasized that the prisoners released as a part of the windup to Annapolis must not have "blood on their hands," dozens of those who will likely be released were sentenced for either attempted manslaughter or conspiracy to kill. Of the 432, fewer than five were arrested prior to the outbreak of the second intifada, with the most veteran among them Ahmad Albaradiya, who was arrested in 1998 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempted intentional manslaughter, gun possession, participating in military training and carrying out services for an illegal organization. And the biggest break will go to Khaled Abu Shakra, who was only set to be released in December 2016, and thus will serve slightly fewer than six years of his 15-year sentence for attempted manslaughter, illegal military training and membership in an illegal organization.