An Israeli ministerial committee on Sunday approved the list of the first 26 jailed Palestinian terrorists to be released as part of renewed US-driven peace talks.
The prisoners were to be set free in Gaza and the so-called "West Bank" on Tuesday. In all, Israel has agreed to release 104 jailed terrorists in four stages, depending on whether or not the Palestinians remain at the negotiating table.
Israeli leaders insist they had no choice but to acquiesce to this demand. But the families of those killed by the men being released said past prisoners releases for the sake of peace had proved that such gestures only make Israel appear weak in the eyes of its enemies, and therefore increase the likelihood of future attacks.
A perusal of some of the names on the list approved this week demonstrates how heart-wrenching a price Israel is paying just to sit across the table from the Palestinian leadership.
Among those set to regain their freedom were:
Salah Ibrahim Ahmad Mughdad, jailed for the murder of Holocaust survivor Israel Tenenbaum.
Abdel Aal Sa’id Ouda Yusef, jailed for his role in the murder of Ian Feinberg in Gaza in 1983. Feinberg was at a meeting with business partners when a group of armed men burst into the room and declared they had come to "kill the Jew." They proceeded to shoot and hack Feinberg to pieces with an axe.
Barbakh Faiz Rajab Madhat, jailed for the brutal stabbing murder of 61-year-old Moshe Beker. Madhat and two accomplices spent the night in Beker's orchard and ambushed the unarmed farmer as he arrived for work early in the morning.
Mortja Hasin Ganim Samir, jailed for the abduction, torture and murder of fellow Arabs Samir Alsilawi, Khaled Malka, Nasser Aqila, Ali al Zaabot.
Ramahi Salah Abdallah Faraj, jailed for the early morning ambush and murder of another orchard owner, 84-year-old Avraham Kinstler, who was hacked to pieces with an axe.
In all, 17 of the 26 to be freed had been convicted of directly participating in the murder of men, women and children, both Jews and Arabs.
Despite their blood-soaked records, the Palestinian Authority on Sunday issued a directive to its ambassadors around the world to portray these men as "freedom fighters."
In a letter obtained and published by Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Palestinian leaders insisted that "the international definition of terrorism [better] befits some Israeli politicians, who distort the image of the freedom-fighting Palestinian prisoner."
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