SOLYMONE BLOG

ISRAELRELEASES 227 PALESTINIAN PRISONERS


Palestinians prisoners queue in line before their release from Ofer Prison near the West Bank town of Ramallah.
The release of 227 prisoners from jails in Israel got underway Monday at noon, a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), which marks the end of the hajj pilgrimage.
The government in Jerusalem issued a statement Sunday confirming that the 227 prisoners would be freed. According to the statement, 209 prisoners were to be transferred from Ofer Prison, near Jerusalem, to the Beituniya checkpoint in the West Bank. The remaining 18 prisoners were to be transferred from Shikma Prison in the Negev, to the Erez checkpoint on the Israel-Gaza border.
The two Palestinian territories have divided leadership. Gaza is ruled by the militant Hamas organization, which refuses to recognize Israel; the West Bank territories are largely under the control of Abbas and his Fatah organization, which is engaged in a sporadic peace process with Israel.
The Supreme Court gave a green light Monday morning for the release, hours after Justice Elyakim Rubinstein ordered that the state must first reply to a petition against it. The petitioners had argued that freeing jailed Palestinians placed the region at risk of renewed conflagration.
According to prosecutors, an examination of the prisoners listed for release showed that none had been charged with causing injury to Israelis, Army Radio reported.
As a matter of general precedent, the courts rarely intervene with the government's decisions on matters of policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
The prisoners being freed are a fraction of the 11,000 Palestinians held by Israel. Their release was originally due to take place last week, during Eid.
By Reuters
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