In his letter, Ashkenazi did not oppose the release of prisoners, or attempt to prevent it, but merely expressed his feelings about the process.
The chief of staff and senior officials in the security establishment approved the release of Palestinian prisoners, after deciding such a move would not pose a threat to Israel’s security.
The release of 86 Palestinian security prisoners scheduled for early Monday morning was finally underway Monday at noon after a several hours' delay.
Initially, 57 prisoners from the West Bank were released and sent by bus to the Bituniya crossing near Ramallah, where they were to cross over to the Palestinian side.
The remaining 29 prisoners from Gaza will be released and taken to the Erez crossing Tuesday. One prisoner who was meant to be among those released will remain in custody after it was discovered he was a Hamas member.
No official reason was given for the delay Monday morning although the Israel Prison Service told Ynet the Gazans were not released following instructions "from above".
Aides to President Shimon Peres refused to comment on rumors that Ashkenazi’s letter was the reason for the delay.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this article