President Shimon Peres commuted on Monday the prison sentences of seven Israeli Arab terrorists, who were sentenced to life imprisonment before the signing of the Oslo Accords.
The decision was made after Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman received a recommendation of a special committee which discussed the matter and recommended commuting the sentences. This is not a case of granting amnesty, but rather determining the length of a life sentence, in cases where the court ordered life imprisonment but the sentence itself was not commuted.
Among the terrorists who will be freed are Kareem Younis and his cousin Maher Younis Ma’ara, who were convicted, according to a report in Haaretz, of involvement in the murder of IDF soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1980 and have been serving a life sentence since 1983. Bromberg, who was 20, was shot in the head and his weapons were stolen. He died several days later died.
Another terrorist whom the committee recommended that his punishment be commuted is Walid Daka, who was convicted of involvement in the murder of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984.
Another terrorist on the list is Samir Ben Salah Sarsawi, who has been in prison since 1988. He was convicted of laying explosives intended to cause death, manufacturing of weapons or explosives and membership in an illegal organization, among other charges.
Other terrorists on the list include Ibrahim Abdel Razek Biadseh, Rushdie Abu Much and Ibrahim Abu Much.
Last year, after it was announced that Gilad Shalit would be freed for more than a 1,000 terrorists, activists protested outside the homes of both Neeman and Peres, demanding that they release Jewish prisoners serving time in Israeli prisons.
The protesters said that since terrorists were being released for one soldier, discrimination should be avoided and Jewish prisoners who have been serving for many years under harsh conditions should be freed as well.
It was later reported that Neeman was considering easing the sentences of some of the Jewish prisoners and had given Attorney Ami Palmor, who heads the Justice Ministry’s Pardons Department, a list of names of Jewish prisoners as a first step in the easing of their sentences.
The Justice Minister, however, did not act to release the prisoners as has been demanded by their families.
MK Otniel Schneller condemned on Monday evening the decision to commute the sentences of the seven terrorists, saying, “I wonder whether it should be defined by law that the president should not commute punishment of Israeli citizens who betray their own country and murder Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers for nationalistic reasons.”