In a briefing on Oct. 12, Cohen said Hamas would benefit from the
release of at least 200 operatives, Middle East Newsline reported. He said Israel could not rule out that
the insurgents would resume attacks on the Jewish state.
"We can't guarantee that the released prisoners won't conduct terror
attacks," Cohen, who acknowledged that ISA had until recently opposed the
exchange, said. "But this is the best deal we could get."
Israel said the leadership of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank
would not be released. They were identified as Ibrahim Hamid, the commander
of the entire Hamas network, Abbas Sayid, Hamas chief in Tulkarm, and Hassan
At least two Hamas military commanders were part of the Shalit deal.
They were identified as Zahar Jabarin and Yehya Sanwar, both of whom were
said to have been founding members of the Izzedin Kassam military wing.
Officials said Fatah was stung by Israel's decision not to release
Marwan Barghouti, sentenced to five life terms for ordering the killing of
civilians nearly a decade ago. Barghouti, who seeks to replace PA Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas, has sought to expand his political influence from an Israeli
Under the agreement, mediated by Egypt, Israel would allow 110
Palestinian insurgents to return to their homes in the West Bank. Officials
said the released detainees would be unable to enter Israel or leave for
abroad for a decade and must report to the Israel Army every month.
"That does not mean that they will not be active," Cohen said. "But the
security risk will be reduced. We chose those who present security challenge
we are capable of dealing with."
But National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, who voted against the
agreement in the Cabinet, said the prisoner release would encourage Hamas
and other Palestinian militias to
attack Israel. He said the abduction of Sgt. Gilad Shalit in 2006 from his
army base near the Gaza Strip was the result of previous lopsided prisoner
"This is a great victory for terrorism," Landau said.
A leading former military officer dismissed the Israeli terms for the
Palestinian release. Former Israeli military chief rabbi Brig. Gen. Avichai
Ronsky, who spent years in special forces, said the Palestinians allowed to
return to the West Bank would soon disappear and escape Israeli monitoring.
"The moment they are released, they will become untraceable," Ronsky
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon agreed. Ya'alon, one of three
ministers who voted against the release, said many of the Palestinian
insurgents freed in the prisoner exchange in 1985 returned to operations in
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, adding the same could take place now.
"The quiet now in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] is about to change,"
Ya'alon, a former military chief of staff, said.