The High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected a petition submitted by the Almagor Terror Victims Association calling for a cancellation of the planned release of 256 Palestinian security prisoners. "We did not find a reason to get involved in the decision," read the court's response. "It is a political decision subject to the authority of the government that works within a responsible framework and formulates its position by means of complex security considerations and policies." The prisoners, mostly Fatah members, are set to be freed on Friday.
17% of prisoners resume terror activity
Almagor representatives had claimed that the government should have no access to anything connected with convicted prisoners."
"What the legal authorities have decreed the government cannot change. The issue is a legal one in its entirety," said the group.
At the very least, Almagor hoped the court would delay the release to give the organization the time needed to go over the list.
State representatives had argued that security officials had voiced their approval for the prisoners' release after they examined the risks of freeing each and every one of them.
Attorney Naftali Wertzbergerm, who was representing Almagor, told the High Court that the planned prisoner release was a political gesture that was "inappropriate" in light of the court's decision to sentence the prisoners.
"The use of prisoners [for political gain] who have been sentenced in a court and jailed is unlawful," said Wertzberger. "The idea that prisoners, just because they belong to Fatah, merit an end-of-season price like this is just too much," he continued.
On Wednesday, Wertzberger told The Jerusalem Post that at first glance, it appeared that some of the prisoners had only served 40 percent of their sentences.
In the petition to the court, he said their release would contravene a cabinet decision from 2005 according to which only those who have served two-thirds of their terms could be released.
In addition, some of the prisoners committed their crimes in the last seven years [and not in pre-Oslo times or many years ago], Wertzberger said in the petition.
And there are prisoners who tried multiple times to kill soldiers and settlers, Wertzberger said.
"The distance between attempted murder and murder is a just a matter of seconds and luck," he said.
Almagor's director Meir Indor also said he objected to the planned release of Abdel Rahim Malouh, second in command of the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine.
His group was behind the assassination of tourist minister Rehavam Ze'evi at a Jerusalem Hotel in March 2001.
When top terrorist leaders are in jail, fewer attacks occur, Indor said.
In the past, Indor's organization has argued that releasing security prisoners only leads to more deaths. It says 177 people have died in terrorist attacks in the last seven years as a result of past prisoner releases.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says that the prisoner release is needed to shore up Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas.