Azzam Azzam returns to Israel, to his home village of Maghar

 Release of Azzam Azzam


(Reuters/Gil Cohen Magen)

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

During his visit to Israel last week, Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Soliman informed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had responded to the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s request and, as a personal gesture to the Prime Minister, had instructed the relevant Egyptian authorities to work to shorten the sentence of Azzam Azzam.

As a gesture of appreciation and gratitude to Egyptian President Mubarak, Prime Minister Sharon ordered the relevant Israeli authorities to release from detention six Egyptian infiltrators.

As a further gesture to Egyptian President Mubarak, Prime Minister Sharon ordered the relevant security authorities to consider the possibility of shortening the prison terms of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with previously determined criteria.

Prime Minister Sharon reiterated his deep gratitude to Egyptian President Mubarak and to Gen. Soliman and emphasized that this humanitarian gesture would make an additional contribution towards the deepening of bilateral relations.

Prime Minister Sharon thanked Health Minister Danny Naveh for being in contact with Azzam Azzam and his family over a long period of time.  The Prime Minister also thanked Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz for their work towards Azzam Azzam’s release.

Today, Prime Minister Sharon shares in the great joy of the Azzam family, whom he has come to know, appreciate and respect during the eight years in which Azzam Azzam has been imprisoned, but especially in the last four years.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke a short while ago with Azzam Azzam and told him as follows:

“Welcome home!  This is a happy moment in the history of the State of Israel, a moment that we have waited for a long time.  Today, the entire country is united in its joy over your coming home.  I am happy that you are returning to your loving family, to your brothers, to your wife and to your children, who have met with me many times and who spared neither time nor effort in working towards your release.

Immediately after I was elected, I met with your family and I promised them that during my tenure as Prime Minister, we would release you.  Since then, I have worked tirelessly in all my meetings with Egyptians and others, in order to do so, and as I promised your family, I delivered.  I expect to see you soon and I say again, welcome home.”

Azzam Azzam told Prime Minister Sharon: “Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much, I love you very much and I don’t know how to express this.  This is only thanks to you.  I don’t have the words to thank you for your determination.  I told my brothers that if I’m not released while Arik Sharon is Prime Minister, I would never be released.  I am fortunate and proud to have been born in Israel.”

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke a short while ago with Azzam Azzam’s family and congratulated them on Azzam Azzam’s release from an Egyptian prison. The Prime Minister praised the Azzam family for the decent and responsible way in which they conducted themselves during Azzam Azzam’s years in prison.

Inas Azzam, Azzam Azzam’s eldest son, told Prime Minister Sharon: “Thanks to you I can say that my father is home. You lived up to your promise; you’re our and the family’s hero.”

Wafa Azzam, Azzam Azzam’s brother, thanked the Prime Minister and said: “Our home is your home; you have an additional home in Marar village. Azzam’s children are your children. You made our dream come true and made possible a second exodus from Egypt.  You are a man of your word and we are your soldiers forever.”

Sami Azzam, Azzam Azzam’s brother, told the Prime Minister that this was a holiday for all of Israel: “With leaders like you, the Israeli people don’t have any problems, we love you very much.