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Blood on their hands

Israel appears willing to free Arab prisoners with blood on their hands

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ready to change Israeli policy in order to free three captured Israeli soldiers

The families of Israeli victims and right-wing politicians strongly oppose the move

Hamas Terrorists

The Israeli government may soon release Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands in order to get back three IDF soldiers. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has convened consultations to reconsider the Israeli policy of not freeing Palestinians prisoners who were directly involved in the killing and maiming Israelis. Since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, over 1,000 Israelis have been murdered and thousands more wounded in terror attacks. After polling coalition and opposition Knesset Members, IsraCast says there is a growing number of public officials who appear ready to change existing policy.

PM Ehud Olmert (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Three IDF soldiers have been held by the enemy for nearly a year and a half now. Corporal Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian attackers in a cross-border raid from the Gaza-Strip in June 2006. Several weeks later, sergeants Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted by Hezbollah invaders who attacked from Lebanon triggering the Second Lebanese war. Israel has tried to conduct negotiations with Hamas and Hezbollah through third parties but has hit a brick wall. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are demanding that Israel free their members who were directly involved in the killing of Israelis. Until now, Israeli policy has been not to free Arab terrorists with blood on their hands.

In order to get back the three soldiers a policy change is now being discussed by the Israeli government. Cabinet Minister Ami Ayalon recently revealed that an Israeli intelligence failure in locating Gilad Shalit in Gaza has prevented the launching of a rescue operation. The whereabouts of Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser are also unknown. In light of the circumstances Israel is now faced with freeing terrorist killers involved in horrendous terrorist attacks that murdered Israeli children and adults. Many families of the victims are outraged by the idea that Israel will free killers who murdered their loved ones. Supported by some right-wing politicians they are expected to campaign against the release of the killers. On the other hand, the families of the three soldiers also enjoy vast public support and are pressing the government to do what it takes to free their sons. A compromise is apparently on the way.

Israeli officials say one possibility would be to free Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists who were involved in the planning but did not participate in the actual attacks. Another change in the criteria could be to release Arab prisoners who have served many years of their sentence. An estimated 11,000 prisoners are held by Israel.

David Essing

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