On almost every street in Gaza, tents have been erected to host welcome home ceremonies and receptions for the Palestinian prisoners freed in the recent prisoner exchange deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, among the conditions to the deal stipulated by the Israeli side, was for more than 160 of the prisoners released to be deported to the Gaza Strip rather than returned to their homes in the West Bank or Jerusalem.
As such, a tent was also set up to welcome the deportees to the Strip where large numbers of Gazans alongside well-known personalities gathered to welcome and congratulate them. The government in Gaza has also expressed keen readiness to receive the exiled prisoners, a number of whom have spent more than twenty years in Israeli prisons. They are currently being put up by the government in hotels along the coast until they adjust to their new lives.
The exiles have expressed their respect and appreciation to the people and families of Gaza, but also their longing for the day when they will be able to return to their homes and sit down with their own families.
The Palestinian government has undertaken to grant $2000 to every prisoner exiled to the Strip to enable them to live in the coming period. The government has also promised to rent out apartments for them shortly and the possibility for them to get married if they so wish.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad