TEL AVIV (Aug. 27)
There is ample precedent for the international prisoner exchange now being quietly negotiated by the United Nations, Israel, Iran and Shi’ite terrorist groups.
Israel has participated in at least 10 major prisoner exchanges since 1956, trading thousands of Arab detainees for handfuls of Israeli prisoners of war.
The first important prisoner exchange was negotiated in 1956, after the Sinai campaign. Israel released 5,500 Egyptian soldiers for four Israeli POWs and the body of a fifth soldier killed in action.
In 1968, 15 terrorists were freed in exchange for passengers aboard a hijacked El Al plane.
In 1969, Israel released 71 Egyptian and Syrian soldiers and seven terrorists for two Israel Defense Force soldiers and the bodies of two others.
In 1971, a senior commander of Al Fatah was released in exchange for a kidnapped Israeli watchman, in a rare one-for-one swap.
Soon afterward, Israel released more PLO prisoners in exchange for an El Al jet, which had been highjacked to Algiers.
In 1979, an Israeli soldier captured by George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was exchanged in Geneva for 76 security prisoners.
In 1983, Israel released 4,600 terrorists of the Palestine Liberation Organization in return for six IDF soldiers captured in the Lebanon war.
In 1984, six Israeli prisoners and the bodies of five others were swapped for 291 Syrian POWs and 20 Golan Heights residents arrested for resisting Israeli soldiers, plus the bodies of 72 Syrian soldiers.
In May 1985, three IDF soldiers were traded for 1,150 terrorists in a swap with Ahmed Jabril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
In July 1985, a phased release of 735 Shi’ite detainees from Atlit prison camp began after 39 remaining passengers of a hijacked TWA jet were freed by its hijackers in Beirut.