President Shimon Peres has decided to reduce the jail sentences of five Israeli-Arab terrorists.

Three of the terrorists are serving for the brutal murder of Haifa Jewish teenager Danny Katz in 1983 and two for the rape and murder of IDF soldier Daphna Carmon in 1987. Katz, the son of Holocaust survivors, was kidnapped from near his Haifa home at the age of 15 by Arabs who worked at a nearby supermarket while on his way to visit a friend. He was beaten to death with sticks and then sodomized. He was found dead four days later in the Israeli-Arab village of Sakhnin.

The men were sentenced to life in prison, plus 27 years. They will now be eligible for release in the near future following Peres’s commutation.

Peres made the move after meeting with Israeli-Arab MK Taleb a-Sana (Ra’am-Ta’al), who also urged him to grant a pardon to Suleiman al-Abed, who is serving time for the rape and murder of teenage Jewish girl, Chanit Kikus.

Katz Family Livid

Danny Katz’s surviving brother Amnon lashed out at the new president Tuesday night, saying: “Peres has not even managed to warm the presidential chair yet and he’s already releasing my brother’s despicable murderers.”

Katz says that his brother’s murderers have become a cause celebre in recent years for the extreme-left, who claimed that they confessed to the crime due to police pressure. The murderers were even granted a retrial based on those claims in 1999 – but were found guilty again.

Mira Katz, Danny's mother, pointed a finger at the media Wednesday morning, asking why there was no outrage at the injustice of releasing the murderers of children. "If they decided to free Yigal Amir, who murdered an old man, the media would not stop yelling about it. So why when they decide to free the murderers of youngsters are the media dead silent?" she told Army Radio.

When taking office in July, Peres pledged he would seek to unite Israel’s populace.

Lapid Chides Hard-Left

Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, former Justice Minister and leader of the defunct Shinui party chided the intellectual far-left for making an issue out of the conviction of Katz's murderers. Lapid told Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday that the murderers also were convicted of a previous killing, a fact omitted by the "intellectual left that saw the trial as a stain on the judicial system."

Concerning repeated claims by leftists that the murderers' confession was forced and that there still is doubt concerning their guilt, Lapid maintained that it is unlikely that five different people would admit to a crime they did not commit. The terrorists won five retrials, including one order by the High Court. "No Jew ever received such consideration and mercy." Lapid said.

Olmert Considering Allowing ‘Nativity’ Terrorists to Return

PA Arab sources following Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas said that the terrorists who took over Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity for 39 days in 2002 may be allowed to return to Judea and Samaria from their exile to Gaza and Europe, upon Abbas’s request. The terrorists were responsible for the murder of 15 Israelis.

Three elderly Armenian monks managed to flee the church at the time with the help of the IDF. One of the monks, Narkiss Korasian, described the Islamist terrorists' behavior to reporters: "They stole everything, they opened the doors one by one and stole everything... they stole our prayer books and four crosses... they didn't leave anything." The monks also told of beatings administered to several Christian clergymen held in the church by PLO gunmen.

The terrorists, who were mostly Fatah men, are considered heroes among Muslims in Judea and Samaria and Abbas hopes that winning their return could increase his meager power-base.

The return of the 26 terrorists would take place in October, as a gesture during the Muslim month of Ramadan.