On Wednesday morning Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners as promised, in a ‘good gesture’ ahead of the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Of the released prisoners, 11 arrived at the headquarters of the Palestinian president in Ramallah and 15 arrived in the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of Palestinians gathered at the Beit-Hanoun crossing welcoming the 15 freed prisoners with great joy and happiness.
Hamas welcomed the release of the prisoners, but reiterated that the price of the release of any prisoner must not be further concessions.
Hamas said that negotiations provide cover for Israel to continue its aggression against the Palestinians. In addition, it deceives the international community by telling them that that they are eager to achieve peace.
The European network for the defence of prisoners’ rights expressed worries about the connection of the prisoners release and the development of negotiations between the PA and Israel.
Meanwhile, PA and Fatah said that this was a very large victory for achieving rights through negotiations, even though the scale of Israeli settlement activity has sharply increased.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad