Under the terms of a February 8 truce, Israel pledged to free some 900 Palestinian prisoners as a good-faith gesture in support of a cease-fire. However, a few days after it released the first 500 prisoners on February 21, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed five Israelis in Tel Aviv, leading Israel to delay further releases.
Now, Reuters reports that Israel has freed almost 400 more Palestinian prisoners, fulfilling its earlier agreement.
The Palestinian reaction? Predictably, they want more. And they'd better get it, or there'll be trouble:
Palestinians said Israel needed to free more prisoners to preserve the truce. "Releasing prisoners gives trust and hope to the peace process," said Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior Abbas aide. "However, this is not enough. All prisoners should be released."The prisoners Israel freed were those without Israeli "blood on their hands". They may have been members of terrorist groups, or carried weapons, or plotted attacks. But they did not actually murder Israeli citizens. Some of the remaining 8,000 or so prisoners did. Releasing them would not give "trust and hope to the peace process". It would give experienced killers to the terror groups.
The Palestinian message to Israel is, essentially, this:
(1) If you want peace, release our killers (who will presumably be only too happy to resume killing).
(2) If you don't, we might start attacking you again (not that we ever completely stopped).
Someone who truly desired peace with Israel would understand that people who murder its citizens deserve to be in prison for their actions. He would not make the pursuit of peace conditional upon their release. When I hear Palestinian representatives like Tayeb Abdel Rahim talk about "peace", I am reminded of Inigo Montoya's immortal line from The Princess Bride: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Israeli National News reports:
Israeli defense forces arrested five Islamic Jihad terrorists hours before they planned to stage a double suicide bombing attack in the suburban Jerusalem neighborhood Ramot on Thursday.Among the terrorists arrested was Muhanad Aby Romy, who is one of the prisoners that Israel released earlier this year. (Found via LGF. Interestingly, it looks like Charles and I independently picked very similar titles for our posts on this topic.)