Arrangements for prisoner release underway

Justice Ministry Pardons Department gears up for controversial release of Palestinian prisoners, even before official green light

After the cabinet approved on Sunday the decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of the resumption of peace negotiations, it was reported Monday that the Israeli judicial system and the Justice Ministry have already set working orders in place with regards to the prisoners' release, based on similar releases in the past, diplomatic attempts and peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.


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The Justice Ministry Pardons Department began preparing documents and permits to release Palestinian prisoners even before the cabinet approved the process as part of the renewal of negotiations. 


צילום: EPA

Prisoners released under Shalit deal (Photo: EPA)


Generally, the Justice Ministry has a database of over 5,000 prisoners categorized by different criteria, including age, crime, level of security risk, and sentence length. The database allows the cabinet to compile an organized list of prisoners to be released in conjunction with security services.


However, since specific prisoners were named during the preliminary round of peace talks mediated by US Secretary of State John Kerry, this process will not be necessary. The Justice Ministry still must determine the location to which the prisoners will be taken: The West Bank, Gaza, or destinations abroad.


צילום: רויטרס

Palestinian prisoners welcomed Shalit deal (Photo: Reuters)


Following preliminary work and approval of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the list of prisoners will be submitted to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who will officially sign the sentence reductions. The names of the prisoners will be released openly in order to allow the public to submit appeals to the Supreme Court.


The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) is also preparing for the prisoners' release. During each of the planned rounds of releases, IPS staff will receive prisoner names from the Justice Ministry, and assume preparations. The prisoners will undergo identification, medical examinations, and will be required to report to the commander of the prison in which they are serving their punishment. Additionally, they may be required to sign a statement declaring they will not engage in any terrorist activity in the future.


Prisoners are commonly transferred to one prison in anticipation of their release. Once the government officially sanctions the operation, army units will escort the prisoners to their release checkpoint under thick security.


The prisoners, who are serving sentences for terrorist activities committed before 1993, have been informed by the media of the intent to release them. However, they are currently keeping a low profile and focusing on the Ramadan fast.


Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to this report.



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פרסום ראשון: 07.29.13, 20:22
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