The Cabinet decision was taken at the behest of Prime Minister Sharon, as a gesture to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in honor of Azzam Azzam's release. Azzam was released last week after eight years in Egyptian prison; he had been convicted of spying for Israel, though he and Israel both strenuously denied the charges. Egypt did not release Azzam for nothing; Israel released six Egyptians it arrested three months ago for conspiring to murder Israeli soldiers.
Despite Sunday night’s sophisticated assault on IDF forces Sunday night on the Egyptian border where Egypt has beefed up patrols to control terrorism, an official in Sharon’s office said the prime minister would go ahead with the prisoner release.
A team headed by the Director of the Justice Ministry will prepare, by the end of this week, a list of terrorists whose prison terms can be shortened or ended. A ministerial team will then review the list and make the final decisions.
Meir Indor, of the Terror Victims Association (TVA), said, "What's clear is that Egypt now knows that it should kidnap other innocent Israeli citizens, hold them in prison for a while until Israel gets used to having them there, and then they'll receive the release of terrorists and the evacuation of Jewish towns in return for finally freeing them. Given that our government is so irresponsible, this should be a warning to all Israelis not to visit Egypt and other Arab nations."
Indor said that the upcoming prisoner release "will not go over easy for Sharon – we'll make sure of that. We will demand the details of every prisoner to be released, so that the Israeli public can know which terrorists are being freed, and we'll go to the Supreme Court wherever we feel it necessary. We know that though the government says it won't release terrorists with 'blood on their hands,' it happens very quickly that those who are released without blood turn into terrorists with blood on their hands."
Menachem Felix of Elon Moreh, whose daughter Ofrah was murdered by Palestinian terrorists a decade ago, has been in the forefront of the campaign to keep terrorists in prison. He said he was told by an IDF Prosecutor that the court petitions he files against the release of specific terrorists are very important, even if they don't produce immediate results, "because they keep the authorities on their toes, and cause them to take great care not to release terrorists in a wholesale manner, to avoid having to defend their decisions in the Supreme Court."
At Arutz-7's request, the TVA will prepare a list of selected terrorists who were released from Israeli prison and then murdered Jews. Indor mentioned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, found to be responsible for the deaths of almost 40 Israelis, as a prime example. Barghouti is currently serving several life sentences, and is even running for leader of the Palestinian Authority.