Release of Palestinians sparks uproar

More than 1,000 protested on Monday near Ofer jail, where the prisoners are being held.
More than 1,000 protested on Monday near Ofer jail, where the prisoners are being held.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister faced an uproar from across the political spectrum on Monday over the planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, all according to authorities convicted on murder charges connected to attacks on Israelis.

Tuesday’s release is part of a US-brokered agreement that restarted peace talks with the Palestinians over the summer. It is the second of four planned releases of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in the coming months.

The overnight announcement of the prisoner names triggered wide criticism. Among those going free are people jailed in connection to the killings of Israelis including a reservist and a Nazi death camp survivor, according to the list provided by Israel’s prison service. Many of the killings occurred before the beginning of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in 1993.


More than a thousand people protested Monday night outside Ofer jail, where the prisoners are held. Families held up pictures of slain loved ones and called on the government not to release the prisoners held responsible for their deaths.

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In a separate development Monday, militants in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets toward Israel, one of which was shot down by the country’s missile defense system, the military said.

The army said the defense battery known as the ‘‘Iron Dome’’ intercepted one rocket above the city of Ashkelon. It said the military was searching for the second. No injuries were reported in the attack.

In response to the rockets and a mortar round fired from Gaza the day before, the military said its aircraft struck the sites of two concealed rocket launchers in Gaza. There were no reports of injuries in Gaza from the strikes.

Israel has a long history of lopsided prisoner exchanges with its Arab adversaries.

Associated Press