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ISRAEL RELEASES 400 PALESTINIANS

PM Sharon: 'Israel Will Release Another 400 Palestinian Security Prisoners Although Chairman Abbas Is Not Fighting Terrorism'

Finance Minister Netanyahu: 'Grave Mistake To Release Palestinian Terrorists While Abbas Dodges His Commitments And Hamas Grows Stronger'

Senior IDF Commander: 'Army Should Remain In Northern Samaria At Least Four Months After Evacuation Of Four Settlements There'

Palestinian Prisoners Released (archive)

The Israeli cabinet has voted overwhelmingly to release another 400 Palestinian security prisoners. Five hundred Palestinians were freed a short time after the Sharm el Sheik agreement in February. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Cabinet that Israel would honor her commitments although Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was not keeping his by fighting terrorism. The Cabinet vote was 18-3; in voting against Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu argued it was a big mistake to free more terrorists while the Palestinians continue the violence. In another development, IDF Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh recommends the army remain in Northern Samaria for at least four months after the upcoming evacuation of 4 Israeli settlements.

IDF Gen. Yair Naveh

There is a risk of a Palestinian flare-up in terrorism after 4 settlements are evacuated in northern Samaria; therefore IDF General Yair Naveh says the Israeli army needs to remain there at least four months after the evacuation. The Commanding Officer of the entire West Bank made his surprise statement to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that toured the area to be evacuated.

Prisoner Release: In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon persuaded the cabinet to release another 400 Palestinian security prisoners. Sharon said it was all the more important that Israel honor her Sharm el Sheik commitments although Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was not keeping his pledge to rein in the terrorists. The vote was 18-3; Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu opposed the move saying it was a mistake to release more terrorists while Abbas was not lifting a finger and Hamas was growing stronger day by day. Israeli officials say none of the released prisoners released have 'blood on their hands'; they did not directly kill or wound Israelis. It appears then that Sharon is giving Abbas 'enough rope' either to hang himself or pull himself out of the hole he is in with his new Hamas partners!

Palestinian Hutzpa: Not only does Mahmoud Abbas demand that Israel release all the Palestinian prisoners, while the terror continues, he also calls on Israel to dismantle checkpoints and speed up the handover of West Bank towns. It is not just the firing of some 100 Qassam rockets and mortars in the Gaza Strip; on Friday, IDF soldiers at a checkpoint near Nablus on the West Bank intercepted a Palestinian with an explosives belt; it was apparently to be used for a suicide bombing attack inside Israel. Israeli bomb disposal personnel blew up the explosives in a controlled blast and arrested the terrorist. Elsewhere in the territories another Palestinian terrorist was killed in a 'work accident', the bomb he was working on blew up prematurely. Hamas said the man was killed 'in a military operation'. These are only two cases among a series of other terror incidents.

The Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks are often a subject of controversy both in Israel and abroad. Because of the hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombers who have murdered over 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands more, the roadblocks are vital particularly where the security fence has not been erected yet. The troops there must be alert to detect potential suicide bombers on their way to blow up civilians inside Israel. If the terrorists get too close to the soldiers they might decide to blow them up with their explosives. It is very dangerous and dirty work; the troops have to sift out the terrorists from among innocent Palestinian civilians. IDF personnel have been killed and wounded carrying out this mission. The terrorists try to get through the roadblocks by exploiting every possible device. Children and pregnant women have been used as couriers with the explosives hidden under their clothes or gowns. In one case, when a young Palestinian woman set off the metal detector alarm she told the soldiers it was a metal plate she had implanted in her leg. Showing compassion, the soldiers let her through; when she approached them she blew explosives under her gown killing and wounding them. There have been cases where terrorists tried to smuggle in explosive belts strapped inside their underwear. Palestinian ambulances have tried to smuggle wanted terrorists with their weapons through the checkpoints. Often when the checkpoints are lifted in a particular area, the terrorists immediately exploit it.The only reason the IDF mans the checkpoints or imposes curfews is to intercept the terrorists; once a suicide bomber is primed and on his way there is a high probability he will blow up Israeli civilians or soldiers on his way. The same applies to the security fence Israel is building. Without such a barrier, the 'walk-in suicide bombers' could continue to stroll in from the West Bank and blow up Israeli kids in buses.

David Essing

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