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Israel releases 10 Jordanian prisoners (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH 11/25/03)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1069742947652&p=1008596981749 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
As a gesture to Jordan and those celebrating the Moslem Eid al Fitr holiday, Israel released ten Jordanians incarcerated in Israel, none were said to have blood on their hands.

The group were driven to the Allenby Bridge international border crossing and released in the late afternoon.

Jordanian State Minister Asma Khader criticised the release saying it was insufficient and demanded that Israel release fifty.

While Israeli government officials insisted that ten Jordanians were released, the IDF Spokesman confirmed that four were released from the Ofer Prison in the Judea district and Prison Authority spokesman Ofer Leffler said five were released from prisons, four men and a woman, from the Nafha, Nitzan and Neve Tirza prisons.

The majority were sentenced for entering Israel illegally, one of the prisoners incarcerated in a military prison was involved in terrorist activities and of the five released by the Prison Authority, two had been punished for security violations that included entering Israel illegally, belonging to an enemy organization and dealing in weapons.

The names of those released are Taleb Mahmud Ahmed Mashani, Haider Russin Fawzi Rashid, Osama Abdel Rahman Salah,Nasser Fawzi Abu Sa´ada, Omar Ahmed Abu Griban,Nahed Yusef Otman Dais, Mohammed Mahmud Suliman Ganana,Mussa Hassan Abdel Hamed Abu Srour, Ibrahim al Kurna and Tarek Mohammed Halil Nabhan.

The nine prisoners released were among some 80 Jordanian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

Israel has repeatedly refused to release four Jordanians convicted of killing Israelis before the two countries signed a peace agreement in 1994.

Israeli diplomatic officials said that although the prisoner issue is not a major issue in Jordan, Israel wanted to demonstrate to the Jordanians that there are benefits and dividends from ties with Israel.

The last time Israel released Jordanian prisoners was in 1999, when five were released as a good will measure to King Hussein.

The official said the decision to release the prisoners had nothing to do with Israeli attempts to get the Jordanians to return to their ambassador to Israel. Nevertheless, the official said, this does "contribute to an improved atmosphere."

Jordan, along with Egypt, withdrew its ambassador soon after the start of the Palestinian violence in September 2000.

The official said that the release was not connected to the pending prisoner release deal with Hizbullah. Nevertheless, the Jordanians made it clear in recent months that in order not to add to Hizbulllah´s popularity, Jordanian prisoners should not be released in a deal with Hizbullah, but rather as a separate gesture to King Abdullah.

The prisoner release comes amid intense German-mediated talks with Hizbullah to obtain the release of an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers captured by the Lebanese guerrilla group in October 2000. In exchange, Israel is set to release some 400 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners.

Initially, Hizbullah wanted Israel to release the Jordanian prisoners as part of its swap, but Israel refused. Herb Keinon contributed to this story (© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 11/25/03)

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