Palestinian Prisoner Karim Younis Walks Free After 4 Decades in Jail

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The 66-year-old was convicted of killing an Israeli soldier. He was one of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Clarion India

RAMALLAH — Israel on Thursday released one of its longest-serving Palestinian prisoners. Karim Younis, 66, was freed and left in the city of Ra’anana, about 20 km north of Tel Aviv, by Israeli authorities, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

Younis remained in jail for 40 years.

He was convicted by Israel in 1983 of the murder of an Israeli soldier three years earlier in the occupied Golan Heights and sentenced to life in prison. That was later reduced to 40 years.

“We are ready to offer another 40 years for the freedom of our people,” Younis said after being released.

Younis was set to be released in 2013 as part of a deal negotiated by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry. The agreement would have freed several batches of prisoners held in Israeli jails since before the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995.

Israel refused to release him, saying that as Younis had Israeli citizenship, it was an internal issue.

He was the longest-serving Palestinian citizen of Israel in prison.

Nael Barghouti, from the occupied West Bank and who does not have Israeli citizenship, is still in prison after 42 years.

Karim Younis’s cousin Maher Younis, who was also convicted in the soldier’s murder, is also expected to be released.

Israeli forces raided his family home in the northern town of Ar’ara on Wednesday, Wafa reported.

Troops confiscated Palestinian flags and banners promoting the Fatah party, which is dominant in the occupied West Bank.

After his release, Karim Younis visited his aunt, Maher’s mother, before going to the graves of his parents, who died while he was in prison, the agency reported.

It comes days after Israel swore in the most right-wing government in its history.

Several ministers have pledged tougher action on Palestinian prisoners, including those who hold Israeli citizenship.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Tuesday called for Karim Younis to be stripped of his Israeli citizenship. In a letter to the country’s Attorney General, saying such a move “has legal validity in circumstances when people use their Israeli citizenship to harm” Israel and its citizens.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir demanded the death penalty for Palestinians found guilty of attacking Israelis as a condition for joining the coalition government.

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Photo: Karim Younis was welcomed by hundreds of supporters singing the Palestinian national anthem in his hometown of northern Israel. — Courtesy AFP

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