Prime Minister Ehud Olmert freed them in a gesture of support for Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. Most were Fatah members convicted for terrorist acts.
They also included Popular Front deputy leader Abdel Rahum Maloukh, whose organization was responsible for the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001.
One was held back for a further security check. A High Court majority of judges rejected a petition against the release filed by Almagor, an organization representing victims of Palestinian terror.
Most may have been Fatah members instead of Hamas or Hezbollah, but that is of little consequence.
There have been rumors since the end of the conflict that Israel has been willing to swap 1000's of prisoners for the 3 Israelis who were kidnapped, and Israel has released prisoners in the hope of getting their men. Their actions of good faith have gone unrewarded.
Recently in New York a rally was held near the UN building in support of the 3 Israelis taken from Israeli territory by the two terrorist groups which ignited the conflicts.
I wrote a column on why Hezbollah attacked Israel a while back, and it has been added to various sites with much praise. If you aren't familiar with Samir Kuntar, and Operation Truthful Promise ... read my column.
I also held up an effort for some time on the violations of UN resolution 1701. The rally on behalf of the kidnapped Israelis cited the continued violations of 1701 by the terrorists, and the UN.
The rally called for the UN to enforce the resolution which required that the Israeli hostages be returned unharmed. It has been over a year, and they have not been released. Nor has there been any evidence that they are alive.
It is my belief that they are dead, and that is why the terrorists will not release them. That has not stopped the terrorists from using the possibility of their release to secure prisoner "swaps." Of course, they aren't really swaps because Israel releases hundreds of prisoners while they receive none in return.