Who are Palestinian prisoners freed in swap deal?

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Gaza City celebrates prisoner swap 00:47

Story highlights

  • Release of Palestinian prisoners in swap for Israeli soldier elicits joy from relatives
  • Many Israelis ask so many prisoners, many with violent pasts, should be freed
  • Some of them are convicted murderers, or plotted terror attacks against Israel

The release of the first half of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit elicited waves of joy Tuesday from relatives of the prisoners.

In Israel, where the soldier's homecoming was greeted with celebration, the deal enjoys widespread support. But many Israelis are asking why so many prisoners, many with violent pasts, should be freed. One minister who voted against the agreement called it "a great victory for terrorism," and there are fears among Israelis that the release of convicted murderers will lead to further attacks on Israeli civilians.

So who are the most controversial prisoners being freed?

Yihia Al-Sinwar: Was serving four life sentences for his role in the kidnapping and murder of Sgt. Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Al-Sinwar's brother Mohammed was reportedly involved in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, and was a founding member of Hamas's military structure in Gaza.

Muhammad al-Sharatha: Was serving three life sentences for his involvement in the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers, Sgt. Avi Sasportas and Cpl. Ilan Saadon. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Sasportas was kidnapped on Feb. 16, 1989 and shot dead. His body was found in May 1989. Saadon was abducted on May 3, 1989, his body was discovered in 1996. Both cases were also associated with senior Hamas militant Mahmoud al-Mabhouh assassinated in Dubai in May last year.

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Ahlam Tamimi: Was serving life terms for being an accomplice in the 2001 bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria restaurant, killing 15 Israelis.

Amneh Muna: Plotted the killing of a 16-year-old Israeli boy Ofir Rahum in 2001 by luring him into the West Bank over the internet, was serving life in prison.

    Nasser Yataima: Was convicted of planning the 2002 Passover Seder suicide-bomb attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya, killing 30 civilians and wounding 140.

    Husam Badran: Reported to be involved in the planning of the 2001 bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub in which 21 youths were murdered, the Park Hotel bombing, and the 2002 bombing of a restaurant in Haifa, in which 14 civilians lost their lives.

    The most notable name not on the list is that of jailed Palestinian lawmaker Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for murder and other charges related to his role in planning attacks on Israelis during the second Intifada. He had been considered by many Palestinians the most important prisoner who might have been released in exchange for Shalit.