Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi among 30 prisoners released in deal for hostages

15 women and 15 teenage boys freed, among them the mother of 2 brothers who carried out a 2018 shooting that caused pregnant Israeli woman to lose her baby

Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi is greeted during a welcome ceremony in Ramallah on November 29, 2023, following the release of 30 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in a deal for Israeli hostages in Gaza. (Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)
Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi is greeted during a welcome ceremony in Ramallah on November 29, 2023, following the release of 30 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in a deal for Israeli hostages in Gaza. (Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Prominent Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi was among 30 Palestinian security prisoners, all women or minors, released from Israeli jails overnight Wednesday as part of a deal under which the Hamas terror group set free 10 more Israelis from among the  hostages it is holding in the Gaza Strip.

“During the night, 30 male and female security prisoners were released from a number of prison facilities,” Israel’s prison service said in a statement.

The Wafa news agency cited the Palestinian Prisoners Commission as saying 15 women and 15 teenage boys were released from Israeli prisons. Qatar gave a slightly different breakdown, of 14 women and 16 minors.

All of those released, with the exception of one, were arrested after October 7, when Hamas carried out a devastating attack on Israel that killed over 1,200 people, most of them civilians massacred in their homes and at a music festival. The terrorists also abducted at least 240 people who were taken hostage in Gaza. Israel responded with a military campaign to crush Hamas and remove it from power in the Strip.

Tamimi, a 22-year-old West Bank Palestinian, was arrested some three weeks ago after posting on social media that Palestinians will “slaughter” settlers and “drink your blood.”

“Our message to the herds of settlers is that we are waiting for you in all the West Bank cities, from Hebron to Jenin,” Tamimi wrote then. “We will slaughter you and you will say that what Hitler did to you was a joke, we will drink your blood and eat your skulls. Come on, we’re waiting for you.”

A temporary truce in the war began last week and was extended on Monday. Under the terms of the deal, Hamas releases 10 women and children it is holding hostage every day and Israel lets 30 Palestinian prisoners out of jail.

Seven of the Palestinians released are Arab Israeli women, the Ynet outlet reported, citing a list published by Hamas.

Screen capture from video of teenage Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi, center, punching an IDF soldier on patrol in the West Bank, December 2017. (YouTube)

Tamimi became an icon of the Palestinian cause at age 16 after she was jailed for slapping an Israeli soldier. She served an eight-month sentence in an Israeli prison, and after her release went on a victory tour, crisscrossing Europe and the Middle East.

Also released Wednesday was Suhir Ismail Musa Barghouti, 64, a Hamas member from the West Bank who has been held since October 26 on unspecified suspicions. She is the oldest woman from among the hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners who could be released in exchange for hostages.

Her two sons, Asem and Salih Barghouti, carried out a December 2018 shooting attack at the Ofir Junction in the West Bank, critically injuring Shira Ish-Ran and moderately injuring her husband Amichai. As a result of the attack, Ish-Ran, who was heavily pregnant at the time, lost her baby son.

Salih was killed by the IDF a week after the attack and Asem was arrested a month later.

At least one of the Arab Israeli women who were added to the list of prisoners strongly objected and said that neither she nor her family nor her attorney were informed that she was being put on the list.

The woman, who did not wish to be identified in media, has been indicted for expressing support and identifying with a terror organization, following comments she made on social media following October 7, but has yet to be tried and denies her comments violated the anti-terrorism laws leveled against her.

“Due to the opposition of my client to being included on the list, and due to the heavy concern of severe harm to her as a result of being released under such circumstances when she is still entitled to the presumption of innocence, I request that you clarify what the legal significance is of my client being included in this decision and what the implications are on the legal process that is pending against her,” an attorney from the Adalah legal aid organization wrote in a letter to State Attorney Amit Aisman and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.

A Palestinian security prisoner gestures among supporters and relatives after being released from an Israeli jail in exchange for Israeli hostages freed by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, in Ramallah, the West Bank on November 28, 2023. (Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

So far, Hamas has released a total of 73 Israeli hostages, 23 Thai nationals and 1 Filipino during the six days of the temporary truce. The original deal stipulated that the pause in fighting could be extended up to a total of 10 days — if Hamas releases at least 10 additional hostages each day, with Israel freeing more Palestinian inmates at a ratio of three prisoners for each hostage.

Israel previously freed 180 female and underage Palestinians serving time in Israeli prisons for security offenses before the 30 released Wednesday.

The government on Monday approved the names of 50 additional female prisoners who could be considered for release if Hamas freed 20 more Israeli hostages in the following days.

Many of the prisoners are affiliated with Hamas, Fatah, or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but some have no known affiliations with any terror groups.

The new list brings to 350 the number of Palestinian prisoners selected for possible early release as part of the agreement.

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