Petition against prisoner swap rejected

Family of policeman killed by Kuntar had appealed to the High Court to stop the deal with Hizbullah.

Kuntar 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Kuntar 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected a petition filed by the family of policeman Eliahu Shahar against the prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah. Shahar was killed in a terrorist attack led by Samir Kuntar, who is due to be released in next week's exchange. The Almagor terror victims group joined the Shahar family in the High Court petition. In the court decision, vice president of the Supreme Court, Justice Eliezer Rivlin, said that Kuntar's release was approved after proper consideration by the cabinet and that the court preferred not to intervene in such cases. "The decision was made at the cabinet's discretion in dealings connected to Israel's foreign policy and defense. In instances like this, the court plays a very restrained role," he wrote. Rivlin added that the cabinet was the sole authority in decisions such as the signing of a deal with Hizbullah and the release of Palestinian terrorists. "Considerations need to be made in the framework of (wider) government decisions and are outside of the legal establishment's jurisdiction". He said that the government's role was to make decisions of this nature, adding that it "has the authority, the information and the capability." Rivlin added that with all due respect to the petitioners, "they didn't have cause to involve the court." Almagor slammed the court's decision. "Rivlin's ruling to not even hear our petition is the height of the High Court's (bad) treatment of terror victims, who come to demand their brother' cries from the grave for justice are heeded." On Monday, a senior defense official said that the defense establishment did not have high hopes for new groundbreaking information on missing navigator Ron Arad's fate in the report Hizbullah was scheduled to provide Israel later this week. According to the official, since the report will likely not contain any new information it will also not hold up the prisoner exchange. IDF sources said that the swap was likely to take place in the middle of next week - after July 12, the second anniversary of the eruption of the Second Lebanon War. In the first stage, Israel will return 200 bodies in exchange for Israeli body parts held by Hizbullah. The second stage will be the swap of captured IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser for Kuntar and four Hizbullah fighters caught during the 2006 war. Also Monday, close to 100 reservists from the IDF Rabbinate Corps were drafted into service and began exhuming the bodies of foreign combatants that will be returned to Hizbullah as part of the prisoner swap. Rebecca Anna Stoil, Dan Izenberg, Yaakov Katz, Herb Keinon and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report