JERUSALEM (JTA) — Family members of terror victims and other Israelis protested outside the Ofer Prison, from where 26 Palestinian prisoners are expected to be released.
The demonstrators, put at about 3,000 by Ynet, formed a human chain around the prison on Monday night. Many held the pictures of victims of Palestinian terror attacks.
The names of the prisoners approved for release by a special ministerial committee were made public Sunday night.
Some 26 Palestinian prisoners will be freed on Tuesday in the second of four prisoner releases connected to the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. In total, 104 Palestinians jailed for at least 20 years will be released; 26 prisoners were released in August.
All of the prisoners approved Sunday for release perpetrated offenses before the Oslo Accords of 1993, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office. Twenty-one are from the West Bank and five are from the Gaza Strip.
Announcements of new West Bank settlement housing construction reportedly will coincide with the release in a bid to calm critics from the right.
“The decision to free prisoners is one of the most difficult I made as prime minister,” Netanyahu said Monday during a Likud-Beitenu faction meeting, according to The Jerusalem Post. “This decision was necessary in our current reality. We have to navigate through a complex international arena full of challenges.”