Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Israel frees 26 veteran prisoners


RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israel freed 26 veteran prisoners to the occupied West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, alongside US-brokered peace talks.

Twenty-one prisoners arrived in Ramallah shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, after Israel released them in a gesture to support the peace process. Five others crossed into their native Gaza.

The 21 former prisoners from the West Bank arrived by bus to President Mahmoud Abbas' compound in Ramallah, where they were met by dignitaries and supporters.

The release of the 26 prisoners was part of a four-stage deal to coincide with the PLO's return to peace negotiations in July.

All 26 were convicted of killing Israelis, with most of the attacks occurring before the 1993 Oslo Accords. A first group of 26 prisoners was freed on Aug. 13.

In Ramallah, freed prisoner Riziq Salah from al-Khader near Bethlehem said his happiness to be free was overshadowed by a deep sadness for cellmates who were left behind. more

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