Mastermind of 2002 Netanya hotel bombing on Hamas list for prisoner exchange
By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents and AP
Hamas has recently prepared a list of leading Palestinians held in Israeli
prisons that the organization will demand in a possible deal for the exchange
of abducted Israel Defense Force soldier Gilad Shalit.
So far, both sides have reached agreement through Egyptian mediation, over the
framework of the deal; however they have not finalized the number and
identities of the prisoners to be released.
Among those whose release Hamas intends to demand is Abbas Sayed, the
mastermind of the massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya over Passover in 2002,
in which 29 civilians were killed.
The military censor allowed the release Wednesday of a report prepared by an
IDF investigating team regarding the raid and abduction of two IDF reservists
along the northern front by Hezbollah guerrillas in July. The report
concluded, on the basis of physical evidence at the site of the attack, that
Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were seriously injured during the attack.
According to the assessments made in the report, one of the two suffered
critical injuries, although the report left the identity of the individual
At this time, Israel and Hamas are holding indirect negotiations on the
central details of the Shalit deal. Sources familiar with the developments say
that if progress is achieved, it is likely that the first stage of the deal
will take place in a few weeks.
Early Wednesday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told reporters negotiations
for Shalit's freedom are "are in their final stage and waiting for Hamas
approval" but added, "it seems that there other parties who are intervening
against the interest of the Palestinian people." He did not elaborate.
The deal is intended to take place in three stages: In the first, Israel is
expected to release about 400 prisoners, among them women, minors and
prisoners suffering from health problems. A short while later, or parallel to
the initial release, Shalit would be released to Israel.
In the second stage, following the release of Shalit, another large group of
Palestinian prisoner would be released. In the third stage, another group of
prisoners, considered "heavy duty" figures, would be freed. These include
senior members of terrorist organizations, including individuals with "blood
on their hands."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has hinted recently that he would agree to the
release of some prisoners who had been involved in attacks that claimed the
lives of Israelis. Nonetheless, the identity of the prisoners who would be
released is still unclear; there is some debate over the number and identity
of the prisoners who would be freed.
For its part, Hamas is demanding that 400 prisoners be freed in the first part
of the deal, and 500 each in the two subsequent parts of the exchange. Israel
would like to limit that figure.
However, a senior Israeli source said this week that it is possible that
Israel will agree to the release of as many as 1,000 Palestinians.
Palestinian sources told Haaretz yesterday that topping the list of those
Hamas wants released, is Sheikh Hassan Yusef, among the leaders of the
organization in the West Bank.
Yusef, a resident of Bitunia, near Ramallah, was jailed for his membership in
a terrorist organization.
Next in line is Sheikh Mohammed Jamal Natshe, from Hebron. He is also among
the leaders of the Hamas political wing in the West Bank.
Also high on the Hamas list is Jamal Abu Hija, who headed the group in the
Another whose release Hamas will demand is Yahiye Sanuar, among the founders
of Hamas and its special security arm, a resident of Khan Yunis, and brother
of Mohammed Sanuar, considered to be one of the heads of Izz al-Din al-Qassam,
the military arm of the organization, and one of those believed to have been
involved in the abduction of Gilad Shalit.
Sanuar has been in prison for nearly 20 years, having been sentenced for the
murder of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. He is not
considered to have "bloodied his hands" in terrorism against Israelis.
The jailed leader of Tanzim, Marwan Barghouti, is also on the list, as is the
Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed
Sa'adat, held for his alleged role in the assassination of former minister
Rehavam Ze'evi, but sentenced for other violations.
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