The High Court of Justice rejected on Thursday an appeal against the scheduled release next week of 26 Palestinian prisoners convicted of carrying out or aiding attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians.
The prisoners, whose identities have yet to be made public, will be released as a confidence-building measure amid ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The mass-release constitutes the third in four phased releases agreed upon as a precondition for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in July.
The petition was filed by members of the Schijveschuurder family, whose parents and three siblings were murdered in a gruesome suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in downtown Jerusalem in 2001.
The appeal sought to halt all prisoner releases pending the establishment of clear guidelines for the pardoning of security prisoners.
According to a report Thursday by Channel 2 News, the release of the prisoners won’t take place until at least Tuesday of next week.
In her decision, Justice Miriam Naor, the deputy president of the Supreme Court, empathized with the petitioners, but ultimately concluded that the appeal did not provide sufficient grounds to dispute the legality of prisoner releases initiated by the government.
“Notwithstanding our understanding for the pain of the petitioners, the appeal does not raise any legal grounds for our intervention,” Naor said. “The points raised have been discussed and decided upon in the past, with regard to the same government decision.”
The question of prisoner releases has been brought before the court many times in the past but has always been rejected when the proposed releases were part of a diplomatic process.
Following the court’s dismissal of the appeal, several dozen people, including family members of terror victims, assembled outside the HaKirya army base in Tel Aviv to protest the ruling.
Fifty-two of 104 convicts slated to be freed from incarceration in Israel have already been released and transferred to the West Bank and Gaza in two previous prisoner releases.