Dozens of Israelis gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home to protest against the planned release of Palestinian prisoners.
The demonstration on Saturday came as Israel released a list of 26 Palestinian prisoners to be freed next week amid US-sponsored peace talks.
Netanyahu’s office said the release of the prisoners was authorised on Saturday evening, and all of those named had served sentences of 19 to 28 years.
The release was to be carried out at least 48 hours after the list was published, in order to give the Israeli High Court time to look into appeals. But since the government already approved the release, the High Court was expected to reject any petitions.
Meir Indor, the chairperson of Almagor, an organisation that operates on behalf of the victims of attacks, warned against the move, noting: “Releasing terrorists will bring more casualty to the area.”
This marks the third group of a total of 104 prisoners Israel agreed to release, with the first two batches freed in August and October.
The US is seeking to broker an agreement on a “two-state solution,” in which Israel would exist peacefully alongside a new Palestinian state. The prisoners’ release is viewed by the US as a vital confidence-building measure.