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Court hears petitions against Shalit deal

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Court hears petitions against Shalit deal
Palestinians celebrate Oct. 12, 2011, in anticipation of a prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel. UPI/Ismael Mohamad | License Photo

JERUSALEM, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Prosecutors asked Israel's high court Monday to reject petitions against releasing some Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit, a captive for more than five years, is due to be released Tuesday along with 477 of the 1,027 prisoners involved in the swap.

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State attorneys argued before the High Court of Justice that a deal to release the prisoners for Shalit was a political matter, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The petitions concerned the release of the 477 prisoners in the first phase of the swap.

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"The court has avoided, time after time, from interfering with petitions against releasing prisoners as the result of political negotiations," state prosecutors argued. "The decision was made after authorized professionals made a detailed examination of the request during negotiations."

One petition, filed by the Almagor Terror Victims Association on behalf of family members of several people killed in attacks carried out by the prisoners scheduled to be released, asked the court to delay the action to allow family members a chance to examine the prisoner list and formulate a response.

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Legal officials told Ynetnews.com the court likely would reject the petitions.

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The soldier's parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, wrote to the justices: "We sympathize with the pain of the families of the terror victims but ask that the court not make any change, however small, to the deal made by the government. Any delay, however small, will put Gilad's life in danger."

The first group of prisoners is to be released Tuesday when Hamas hands over Shalit, who has been held in the Gaza Strip since a June 25, 2006, raid.

Meanwhile, Arab citizens of Israel criticized Hamas and the prisoner-exchange deal, saying three female prisoners were not included in the swap, Ynetnews.com reported.

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The Islamic Movement said it was considering canceling Tuesday festivities to honor six Israeli Arabs on the prisoner-exchange list.

"Hamas took care of its own people and ignored the Israeli Arabs," Sakhnin resident Hani Badarna said. "They released six prisoners to show they care for us, thinking we were small children who can be fooled.

"But I say to Hamas: You didn't do us a favor by releasing six prisoners. It's not a good deal."

Hamas had pledged to have all the female detainees in Israeli prisons released but it became clear some would remain jailed, including the three Israeli Arabs.

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Family members protesting Sunday in Umm al-Fahm pressed Hamas for the release of all female prisoners but the group said it wouldn't risk jeopardizing the deal for the women not included in the swap.

The exchange also drew criticism in Ramallah where about 200 family members of prisoners not included in the swap protested the deal.

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