The list of Palestinian prisoners that could be released as part of a exchange deal that would secure the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit includes many names rejected by past Israeli governments as being too dangerous to release.
One of the most prominent names in the list is Ibrahim Hamed, the chief of Hamas’s military operations in the West Bank. Hamed’s release was considered a “red line” by Shin Bet officials, who considered him to be an extremely dangerous individual, endowed with leadership skills, operational vision, and creativity.
In 2009, Hamed was part of a list of prisoners whom former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to release, since he was considered to be “an extremely dangerous” role model.
The Shin Bet attributes the murder of 90 Israelis to Hamed; among other attacks, he was responsible for the bombing in the Jerusalem restaurant Café Moment; in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; in the capitol’s Zion Square; as well as several shooting attacks across the West Bank.
He was apprehended in 2006, but has not admitted to the crimes attributed to him during interrogation.
Shin Bet officials have claimed that Hamed has continued masterminding terror attacks since his imprisonment, including one unsuccessful kidnapping attempt in the Rimonim junction, east of Ramallah. He has been in solitary confinement since that attempt.
Another key name in the newly released list is Hamed’s partner, Abdullah Barghouti, an engineering student from Kuwait who arrived in the West Bank following his marriage.
Barghouti’s prowess as a bomb builder was soon picked up by Hamas, prompting the Kuwaiti national to construct lethal and sophisticated explosive devices.
He constructed the devices which were used in the attacks on the Sheffield Clun in Jerusalem’s Hebrew University; the attack on Café Moment; the bombing in Zion Square, and in Tel Aviv’s deadly Bus 5 bombing.
Shin Bet officials have feared that Barghouti would pass on his bomb-building know how to others upon his release. As of right now the West Bank does not hold any bomb expert.
In 2004, Barghouti was convicted of the murder of 66 Israelis and was sent to 67 life sentences, representing the largest number of life sentences ever issued in Israel’s history. He has been in complete solitary confinement since his capture. Recently, he has claimed to have gone insane, and has sought to see his family and exit solitary confinement.
Another accomplice of Hamed and Barghouti is Mohammad Arman, who had enlisted the Silwan terror squad that executed the bombings themselves, briefed them, and supplied them with bombs.
Hassan Salameh of Gaza, another prisoner which until now Israel was unwilling to release, was also on list of those to be freed as part of the Shalit deal. He is linked to retaliation attacks against Israelis in the wake of Israel’s assassination of Hamas strongman Yihyeh Ayash.
Salameh was convicted of initiating a double, simultaneous attacks in an Ashkelon bus station and in Jerusalem’s Bus 18. A week later, he was responsible for another attack on a Bus 18, and all in all was convicted of the murder of 46 Israelis.
He has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest. Salameh is considered to be a revered figure in Gaza, one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing.
A prominent name on the list of prisoners due to be released is Marwan Barghouti, a prominent Fatah field commander and member of the Palestinian legislative council, who had opposed attacks within Israel.
In 2002 he was arrested and tried in Tel Aviv’s District Court, with which he refused to recognize or cooperate with. He was sentenced to 5 life sentences over orders he gave which resulted in the killing in 5 Israelis.
Ahmed Saadat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is also due to be released as part of the deal. Saadat, among other operations, ordered the murder of former Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi.