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Al-Aqsa gunmen (Archives)
Photo: AP
Israel pardons 45 more wanted al-Aqsa men
Gesture made in framework of last year's amnesty deal with Palestinian Authority

Israel granted full pardon on Sunday to another group of 45 men belonging to the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an offshoot of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, Palestinian sources told Ynet.

 

The full pardon allows the men complete freedom of movement in the territories and beyond. The gesture, made in the framework of last year's amnesty agreement between Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority, was finalized following a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian officials.

 

In October 2007, Ynet revealed that Israel and the Palestinian Authority had reached an agreement that saw wanted al-Aqsa members begin a three-month probation period, with those not involved in terrorist activities during this period being granted amnesty.

 

Some 270 al-Aqsa members entered into a special regimen in which they were to be confined to PA facilities. The men signed a document obligating them to refrain from taking part in any military activity and surrender their weapons to the Authority. Sixty more gunmen were eventually added to the original list.

 

Since the signing of the agreement Israel has killed three al-Aqsa gunmen who were on its amnesty list, claiming they returned to their terrorist ways. A number of others were detained for the same reason – but for the most part both sides appear to be pleased with the deal.

 

Earlier on Sunday Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of a series of Israeli gestures ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday.

 

In their meeting Sunday, Barak told Fayyad that Israel will allow first-degree relatives – men above 40 and women of all ages – from Judea and Samaria into the Green Line. In addition, Arab Israelis will be allowed to enter Area A in the West Bank, and men aged 45 and above will be given permits to head to Temple Mount.

 

Barak added that in addition to gestures pertaining to West Bank roadblocks, the pace of operation at the checkpoints will be boosted in order to allow for faster crossing. 

 

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