Israel’s Supreme Court to mull petition against Shalit prisoner swap


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court will consider petitions by terror victims’ families to cancel the Shalit prisoner swap deal.

The court said Sunday it would hold a hearing before a three-justice panel at noon Monday to consider a petition filed by the Almagor Terror Victims Association against the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The association also asked the court to delay the releases to allow more time to study the list and make objections. Several families also have filed separate petitions against the release of particular prisoners.  

Israel’s Prison Service late Saturday night published the list of the 477 prisoners to be released in the first stage of the Shalit deal. According to Israeli law, the names of the prisoners to be released must be made public 48 hours before the scheduled release to allow for appeals against their release.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Israel began transferring Palestinian prisoners to jails near their release sites

Shalit is scheduled to return to Israel via Egypt on Tuesday at the same time as the first set of prisoners are returned to Gaza and the West Bank. Some Palestinian prisoners also will be deported abroad.

On Saturday, Israeli President Shimon Peres began formally pardoning the prisoners who are part of the exchange. He reportedly will attach a letter to the pardons saying that while he is pardoning the released terrorists, "I do not forget and I do not forgive."

Shalit’s father, Noam, told Israeli media that the family has not yet received proof that his son is alive. The last proof that he was alive came in a one-minute video released two years ago.

Shalit was captured by Hamas-associated gunmen in a 2006 cross-border raid and reportedly has been held ever since in Gaza.

Over the weekend, German mediator Gerhard Conrad cautioned that the agreement signed by Israel and Hamas could still be derailed at the last minute, specifically by Iran.

In Gaza, preparations were under way for mass celebrations for the released prisoners, including setting up stages throughout the coastal strip and reception tents at the homes of the prisoners’ families.

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