Israel lists Palestinian women and teenage prisoners to be freed in truce

Israel holds about 2,000 Palestinians in prison without charge

Palestinians hold images of family members outside the Red Cross offices in Hebron, calling for humanitarian access to Palestinians in Israeli jails. AFP
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Israel's Justice Ministry has published a list of Palestinian prisoners who may be released under an agreement made with Hamas on Tuesday night, part of a four-day truce in exchange for the release of women and children hostages held in Gaza.

Under the agreement between Israel and Hamas, an initial 50 women and children hostages will be released from Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails.

The 23-page document, released by the ministry on Wednesday morning, lists details of about 300 people held by Israel – double the amount it said would be released under the deal with Hamas.

Seven pages are dedicated to 123 children under the age of 18.

"One woman, 18, was arrested for 'incitement on Instagram'", the list said.

According to Human Rights Watch, about 2,000 Palestinians are being held in Israeli prisons without charge.

The vast majority are from the occupied West Bank, with smaller numbers from East Jerusalem and Gaza.

While some are being held without charge, others have been accused of a range of crimes from throwing pipe bombs at Jewish tombs and stabbing police officers, to arson and manufacturing weapons.

A majority of Israeli ministers voted for the landmark truce agreement, which will usher in the longest pause yet in six weeks of war that have killed more than 14,300 people, most of whom are women, children and the elderly in Gaza.

Among the detainees are five 14-year-olds, most of whom were arrested in July for throwing stones at soldiers.

Twenty-two women over the age of 18 are also listed, the oldest of whom is a 59-year-old member of Fatah accused of transferring funds to Hamas. Others have been accused or convicted of attempted murder.

Other prisoners are listed as affiliated to Fatah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Some of the teenagers are accused of being affiliated with Hamas and were detained for reportedly trying to assault police officers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the agreement does not mean the war will end after the four-day pause, in which increased humanitarian aid will enter Gaza.

The prime minister and his government have come under consistent fire from the families of the more than 200 hostages held in Gaza, saying the government has not done enough to secure their release.

“We will not stop the war after the ceasefire. There is nonsense out there suggesting that we will halt the war after the ceasefire to return the hostages. I would like to make it clear – we are at war, and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals,” he said in a Tuesday night meeting of the war cabinet.

Prisoners will be released only once the first batch of Israeli hostages are handed over to Israel's security forces, the justice ministry said on Wednesday.

It also gave the government 10 days to procure the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza, following the release of the first captives.

Mr Netanyahu and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz must "decide on the completion of the execution ... for the release of Israeli hostages in accordance with this decision no later than 10 days from the first batch".

"Security prisoners who have not been released by the deadline will not be released from prison, and the government decision in their case will be null and void," the statement said.

Some of the prisoners have been detained since 2015 and 2016, according to the document released on Wednesday.

West Bank crisis

Israel is holding thousands of Palestinians in its prisons, some of whom are being held without charge. It has also increased mass arrests in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

Almost all of the prisoners to be released were arrested before the October 7 attack, which killed about 1,300 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel.

Conditions for those held in Israel have deteriorated since the attack, the Palestinian Commissioner for Prisoners said, claiming prisoners are unable to go outside to exercise, are served undercooked food and are denied electricity from 6pm to 6am.

Israeli ministers have also discussed tougher conditions for Palestinian detainees in light of the attack.

Israel said the truce will be extended by a day for every 10 additional hostages released.

Updated: November 22, 2023, 12:21 PM