JERUSALEM?- Of the Palestinian convicts who will be released in a week by the Israeli government as a gesture to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, 133 were serious convicted offenders who only narrowly avoided civilian deaths.

Included among those who will go free are attempted murderers, shooting attackers, and various bombers and firebombers.

The ministerial committee for the release of convicts, led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, yesterday approved a total of 199 Palestinian terrorists to go free.

Among those being released are two with blood on their hands, whom Mr. Abbas asked for personally.

One of them, Ibrahim Mahmoud Mohammed, was sentenced to two life terms for the murder of a Danish Jewish seminary student Yehoshua Salome in the Old City of Hebron in 1980. Several years later, when the convict was in Israeli prison, he murdered another convict because he suspected him of collaboration with Israel.

The other murderer to be released is Said Itbari, sentenced to life for the murder of Tzila Galili, in the suicide bombing in Petah Tikva, who was arrested in 1977. At the meeting, it was said that both these convicts had served decades, and according to security officials, were no longer dangerous.

On its Internet site, the Israel Prisons Service published the names of convicts to be released

Most of the convicts who appear on the list were convicted of offenses punishable by 20-year terms. These include offenses as mentioned above, as well as espionage.

The list includes:

* Two convicted of murder;

* Two convicted of spying;

* Three convicted of kidnapping’

* Eight convicted of throwing firebombs;

* 12 convicted of stone throwing;

* 18 convicted of terror organization activity;

* 20 convicted of possessing weapons and explosive material;

* 30 convicted of placing bombs;

* 40 convicted of shooting at Israelis;

* and 48 convicted of attempted murder.

Israel government ministers Shaul Mofaz and Avi Dichter adamantly opposed the list approved by the committee.

“The release of convicts is not interpreted as a gesture, but as weakness,” said Mr. Mofaz. “The State of Israel has released hundreds of convicts in recent months, and Abbas’s situation has not changed. Why are we helping Abbas instead of worrying first about the release of Gilad Shalit?’

(Staff Sgt. Shalit is an Israeli POW in Hamas hands.)

Israel Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said it was possible to find terrorists who had not taken the lives of Israelis. “These are two murderers, who beyond the fact that they were responsible for the deaths of Israelis, one of them slaughtered a Palestinian convict in jail for allegedly cooperating with Israel,” he said.

It is believed the release will also be an opportunity by the Palestinian Authority to celebrate and gloat, even at Israel’s expense.

The Israeli government denied requests to ask the PA that they keep the prisoner release quiet and not televise it.

Requests were denied.

Therefore, the stage is set for the Palestinian Authority to conduct a media festival in honor of its freed convicts from Israeli jails.

Critics say the released criminals will be held up as “role models” by Abbas for the rest of the Palestinian population to emulate.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2008


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.