Terrorists are released (archive)
Terrorists are released (archive)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Hundreds of imprisoned Palestinian Authority terrorists are scheduled to be freed later this month in order to fulfill the second stage of the prisoner exchange deal with the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza.

In the first stage of the deal, kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was returned to Israel in exchange for 477 Hamas terrorists in October after being held in Gaza for six years following his abduction in a cross-border raid by Hamas-allied terrorists on June 25, 2006 during his IDF service near the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

The 550 remaining terrorists -- most of whom are allied with the Ramallah-based Fatah faction that leads the PA in Judea and Samaria -- are to be released on December 18, according to government officials.

However, the second group will be comprised of "car thieves" and similar petty criminals of Israel's choosing, according to a Jerusalem source.

"We won't be making any 'gestures' to [Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud] Abbas," the source said. He pointed out there was no real reason to reward him for his worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel, circumvent talks and instead win independent PA statehood via the United Nations.

The list of prisoners to be released, which must ultimately be approved by the Prime Minister's Office, is currently being organized by the Justice Ministry.

In the first phase of the two-part deal most of the Hamas terrorists who were freed had "blood on their hands," leading to an immediate spike in the terrorist group's popularity.