Jerusalem: Israel is to free 770 Israeli
and Palestinian prisoners, including a founder of the Islamist
movement Hamas, due to overcrowding, a prison services
spokeswoman said on Thursday.
Sivan Weizman said all of the prisoners, among them
200 Palestinians, had almost completed their sentences.
The prisoners, who were expected to be freed today,
include Hassan Yusef, a West Bank leader of the Hamas
movement, who had six weeks remaining of a six-year term for
"membership of a terrorist organisation."
"Hassan Yusef is being freed today," Weizman said.
Last March, Yusef disowned his son after he admitted
to having spied on Hamas for Israel and playing a major role
in the arrest of senior militants.
Mosab Hassan Yusef, 32, has said he was a top informer
for Israel`s Shin Bet internal security agency, known by the
codename "The Green Prince."
He converted to Christianity 10 years ago and now
lives in California. He reportedly worked for the Shin Bet at
the height of the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, that
began in 2000, when Hamas carried out dozens of suicide
bombings in Israel and Israel waged an all-out war on the
Hamas has said the elder Yusef worked entirely in the
public political wing of the movement. He was elected to the
Palestinian parliament in 2006, while in Israeli custody.
Deputy Palestinian prisoners minister Ziad Abu Ain
told AFP today that the Palestinians were expecting the
release of "around 70 prisoners who have finished their terms
of Israeli jails" but had no additional details.
According to figures released by Israeli rights group
B`tselem in April, there are 5,380 Palestinians held in
Israeli jails, 217 of whom were under 18.