Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Israel releases 26 veteran Palestinian priosners


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – After waiting for hours in front of the main gate of Israel’s Ofer detention center in Beitunia south of Ramallah early on Wednesday morning, families of 11 veteran Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank finally saw the front lights of buses carrying their children back to freedom after they served more than 20 years in Israeli jails.

Crowds started to chant as they escorted the buses towards the Palestinian Authority’s presidential compound in Ramallah where President Mahmoud Abbas was waiting to welcome the freed prisoners.

Abbas delivered a short welcome speech to allow the prisoners’ families to hug them for the first time since decades. “I hereby tell you that we will never relax until all prisoners are among us,” Abbas said. He added, “you are just a first group and the rest will follow for sure.”

Khalid Muhammad Asakra, a prisoner from Bethlehem who was freed after serving 23 years, told Ma’an that prisoners were seriously worried of possible Israeli manipulations. He urged Abbas and Palestinian leaders to work tirelessly in order to try and free all Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Tahir Zayoud, a prisoner from the Jenin area in the northern West Bank, was released Wednesday only six months before he completed his 21-year sentence. Nevertheless, he said he felt triumphant as he was released to his freedom.

“Today our Palestinian people are welcoming us after they have supported us for long years. Without their support we wouldn’t have been freed from jail. We would like to thank President Abbas who put his promise into effect.” more

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