Israel decided to release 450 Palestinian detainees as part of a prisoner-swap deal to secure the release of the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, and would also release additional 550 detainees chosen by the state as part of what was described as a ‘gesture to the Palestinians’. The decision was made by the High court of Justice responding to a petition filed by Amagor Israeli group, and three bereaved families, against the prisoner-swap deal.

The state said that 450 Palestinian detainees, demanded by Hamas, would possibly be freed in exchange for the release of Shalit. The names of the detainees are being examined by Israel and its security services.

The state added that this is a bargaining incident, in which Israel to trying to pay the lowest possible price for the release of Shalit, and that the additional 550 detainees would be chosen by Israel to be released as a gesture of good will.

The names of the 550 detainees are yet to be determined, and the issue is not up for negotiations.

The bereaved families wanted the court to reveal why the criteria for prisoner release was not made public, and why there is military censorship on information that should be available to the public.

But the state said that the two parties, Israel and Hamas, promised the German mediator to keep the details of swap talks discreet so that negotiations can be conducted away from the media, without external pressures.

Israeli Ynet News reported that attorney Anar Helman, in charge of High Court petitions at the office of the state prosecutor, and deputy state prosecutor, Gilad Shirman, said that past experiences indicate the media reports on prisoner swap leads to more radical stances on the other side, an issue that led to further delays in returning the captured soldier home.