Israel to free Jordanian prisoners

Israel has decided to release 10 Jordanian detainees on the eve of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.

    Aerial view of Israel's Meggido prison where it holds some 1600 detainees

    Prison authorities would not reveal the identities of those being freed as a so-called “goodwill gesture” after the Israel prime minister’s office made the announcement on Sunday.

    But according to public radio they include only four who were being held for “security reasons”. Two of them were sentenced for possessing weapons or explosive offences, including Saleb Mishni, jailed for two years and eight months in 2001.

    The radio also named Haidar Rashid Hussein, sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 1998. He was also convicted for belonging to the Islamic Jihad resistance group.

    Another two have been imprisoned for “anti-Israeli activities”. The other six were being held for illegal entry into Israel.

    The detainees are all expected to be released on Tuesday.

    Amman reaction

    Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Moashar welcomed the decision, made at the Israeli cabinet’s weekly meeting.

    “The decision to release 10 prisoners is a positive step in response to efforts on behalf of King Abd Allah II and the Jordanian government,” he told state television.

    The prisoners had “served minimum sentences allowing the Israeli government to release them”, said Moashar.

    He stressed that the group was the first batch of Jordanians to be released as part of ongoing talks for Israel to release 81 Jordanians imprisoned in Israel.

    The releases are not connected to separate negotiations to bring about a prisoner exchange deal with Lebanon’s resistance group Hizb Allah, according to Israeli government sources.

    Jordan and Egypt have signed peace treaties with Israel.

     

    SOURCE: AFP


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