Israel has agreed to pardon 45 Fatah terrorists on the IDF's “wanted” list, according to reports in the Palestinian Authority-based news agency Ma'an and newspaper Al-Hayyat. The terrorists are affiliated with the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade offshoot of Fatah. Their pardon was a “goodwill gesture” from Israel in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Adha.
The pardoned terrorists will now be allowed to move freely throughout PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria. According to Ma'an, most of the pardoned terrorists were required to turn in a personal weapon and promise not to commit further acts of terrorism.
Israel has pardoned several dozen terrorists in recent months in similar “goodwill” gestures to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Several of the terrorists have been caught carrying out terrorist attacks since their pardon.
Many of the pardoned terrorists have been required to serve three months in a PA prison, after which they have been recruited by PA forces. Last summer, 13 pardoned terrorists took up arms, vowed to carry out further attacks against Israelis, and created a stronghold in Shechem; they were ousted by the IDF after PA forces failed to capture them.
Last week, terrorists were caught as they attempted to bomb the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. The suspects were arrested near their target after a massive manhunt. Two pardoned Fatah terrorists took part in planning the attack.
The government is planning other “goodwill gestures” to the PA as well: the army will remove checkpoints and roadblocks near the city of Shechem, and 230 terrorists will be released. The terrorist release was meant to take place in time for Eid ul-Adha, but was delayed, reportedly so that Abbas could be present as the prisoners returned to PA-controlled territory. Abbas denied involvement in the delay.