Palestinian inmates slated to be released Monday night were transferred to Ofer Prison between Jerusalem and Ramallah on Sunday. They were undergoing identification procedures, medical checks and examinations by the Red Cross Monday.
The release marks the third phase of a four-stage series of releases agreed on when peace talks with the Palestinians were resumed in July.
The Almagor terror victims’ organization filed for an injunction Monday with the Supreme Court against the release of prisoners who are residents of east Jerusalem. The organization also demanded the right to protest outside the home of one of the prisoners slated for release.
Two people were arrested overnight Sunday-Monday during a protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem against the upcoming release of the 26 Palestinian prisoners.
On Sunday night, left-wing Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, a staunch supporter of peace talks with the Palestinians, said he surprised observers by coming out against the release during an interview with Channel 10’s Dan Margalit.
“He asked me again and again if he had heard correctly, that I object to the release of terrorists now,” Horowitz wrote in a statement posted to his Facebook page. “So I say it here again, in the clearest way possible: It is folly to release terrorists at such a stage of the negotiations, and certainly when [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu links the release to settlement construction. And what we do get at the end of the day? Wounds, bruises, a scourge. We are releasing murderers and also building in places where it is clear that we will not remain” under a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians.
“Bibi [Netanyahu] suffers from a split personality,” Horowitz added, “or he is simply a serial liar. With one hand he releases terrorist murderers, and with the other hand he allows extremists in his party, like Miri Regev, to pass laws that sabotage the talks.” Regev on Sunday pushed a bill through the Ministerial Committee for Legislation that would see the annexation of the Jordan Valley.
On Saturday night, a panel of Israeli cabinet ministers approved the list of 26 Palestinian prisoners to be released on Monday.
All of the prisoners on the list (Hebrew PDF), save three, were convicted of murdering Israeli civilians, soldiers or Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. In a press release Saturday night, the Prime Minister’s Office said all of the inmates had been convicted of offenses committed prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in mid-1990s.
Almost all of them were given life sentences, although a few would have been up for release in the next decade. They have all served between 19 and 28 years of their terms. Click here for a list of the convicts and their offenses.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.