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Monday, October 24, 2011

How many prisoners signed an anti-terror pledge? Not many.

I noted last week that IMRA reported the text that released Arab prisoners signed, pledging not to join terror groups or incite against Israel,and that if they do they can be forced to resume their prison sentences.

There is concern among the Palestinian Arabs that this would allow Israel to re-arrest released terrorists for things like traffic violations or building without a permit, not to mention participating in anti-Israel demonstrations.

A lawyer for at least one prisoner is trying to get Egypt to force Israel to cancel the pledges.

However, Hamas spokesman Mushir al Masri claims that most prisoners refused to sign the pledge to begin with, except for the few that live in Israel itself. The Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv also claims that Egypt did not pressure prisoners to sign any declarations, and that the pledges were not part of the deal.

The Christian Science Monitor seems to confirm this, reporting that a mere 5% of the released prisoners signed any sort of pledge:
Fifty-five of the detainees were required to sign documents promising not to return to terrorist activities and to obey the security conditions of their release. The security restrictions vary based on a risk assessment completed by the Israel Prison System, with some barred from leaving their village or city.

Those Israel is less concerned about will only be required to present themselves every two or three months at the nearest office of the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, says spokesman Maj. Guy Inbar.

For Nael Barghouti – who served 34 years in an Israeli prison, making him the longest held Palestinian detainee – that will mean visiting the Israeli settlement of Beit El.

Mr. Barghouti returned to his village of Kobar, near Ramallah, on Tuesday, and will not be allowed to leave the area again for three years. If he violates these conditions, Barghouti will have to return to jail to finish the life sentence he was given for his role in the death of an Israeli soldier in the West Bank in 1978.

Some say the restrictions are unfair, and that if the prisoners are truly freed, they should not be so tightly controlled.

“It’s not fair to make special conditions for some prisoners,” says Ziad Abu Ein, Palestinian Authority Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, pointing out that many prisoners will not even be able to travel to neighboring cities for work. “You released him, so you should give him all the opportunity to live like other people, to be married and have a house.”

Those with special security arrangements will essentially remain under direct monitoring of Israeli authorities, says Mr. Abu Ein. Israeli forces, who patrol the West Bank, will decide if prisoners broke the conditions of their release, he says.

But Israel says these restrictions are necessary to protect its citizens because, left alone, some of the former prisoners may soon begin plotting attacks again.
Today's Maariv also confirms that most prisoners refused to sign the release form. The story is that one of the prisoners told Israeli security that he has no problem scuttling the entire Shalit deal by refusing to sign, and word got around to the other prisoners about his refusal, so they followed suit, some saying "we will free ourselves anyway." The Prime Minister's office, somewhat defensively, said that signing the form was never part of the agreement.