The captors of the Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, have handed over the names of the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners they want released to Israel several days ago, through Egyptian mediators.
Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, the most senior Palestinian held by Israel, is among the hundreds of inmates the Hamas organization wants in exchange for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said Monday. The information minister and the prisoner are distant relatives.
Marwan Barghouti, seen as a potential successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is serving five consecutive life terms for his involvement in the murders of four Israelis and a Greek monk, and the demand for his release could complicate the swap as Barghouti's release would require a pardon by Israel's president since he was tried in a civilian, not a military court.
Before the eruption of the Palestinian intifada in 2000, Barghouti was seen as a moderating influence among Palestinians, pushing for peace talks and a Palestinian state next to Israel. Israeli peace activists met with him frequently.
Additional Palestinian prisoners on Hamas' list include Ahmed Saadat, who headed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small PLO faction. In 2001, gunmen from Saadat's faction assassinated an Israeli Cabinet minister, Rehavam Zeevi, in a Jerusalem hotel.
Four PFLP members have been charged in the assassination, but Israel's attorney general said there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute Saadat in the killing. Saadat faces trial in a military court for unspecified security offenses.
Masterminds behind hundreds of deaths
The list includes, among others, the names of prisoners convicted for their involvement in dozens of suicide bombings inside Israel. The most prominent of these is Abdullah Barghouti, a Hamas leader in the West Bank who is serving out 67 consecutive life terms. Barghouti pleaded guilty to building the bombs that murdered 66 people and wounded more than 500 in a series of suicide bombings.
Hamas is also demanding the release of Hassan Salama, a Hamas leader who in the mid-90's led a wave of suicide bombings. Salama was convicted of murdering 67 Israeli citizens and was sentenced to several dozen consecutive life terms.
Another name on the list likely to cause outrage is Fouad al-Shoubaki. In his capacity as former chief of military financial affairs for the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat, al-Shoubaki orchestrated the arrival of the Karin A weapons ship which was intercepted by the IDF in 2002 while en route from Iran to Gaza. Al-Shoubaki was arrested in March 2006 during Israel's raid on the Jericho prison.
The list also calls for the release of some 40 Palestinians imprisoned since before the Oslo accords in 1993.
The Associated Press contributed to this report