Palestinians gather to greet prisoners

2011-10-18 09:38
Ofer prison - Throngs of excited Palestinians gathered in the West Bank and Gaza from early on Tuesday, preparing to greet prisoners released under a landmark exchange deal.

A group of 477 Palestinian prisoners, some held in Israeli jails for decades, were to be freed under a deal that will see a total of 1 027 Palestinians released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was released by Hamas into Egyptian care at around 08:15 (06:15 GMT).

At the Ofer prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, thousands of men and women gathered in the early hours of the morning, braving the cold air, many of the men pulling on cigarettes and pacing to keep warm.

Some in the crowds waved green flags of the Hamas movement, which inked the landmark exchange deal with Israel, as well as the yellow flags of the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas - and the Palestinian flag.

People gather on Mount of Olives

The atmosphere was festive, with some chanting "national unity, national unity" and clapping their hands.

Dozens of people were also gathering on the Mount of Olives in annexed east Jerusalem, awaiting the 15 prisoners who were expected to arrive home during the morning, an AFP correspondent said.

Outside Ofer prison, Lulia Makhamra, 62, was standing with a Palestinian flag draped over her head as she waited for the return of her son Mohammed Awad, who has served 10 years of a life sentence.

"I'm feeling a truly beautiful happiness, even though my other son is still in prison," she told AFP.
"I didn't believe that I would live to see Mohammed, but today I feel very, very happy."

Palestinian radio said the workers union in the West Bank called for employees to stop work at 10:00 am "to welcome home our prisoners".

At the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, a delegation of senior Hamas officials accompanied by representatives of the prisoners’ families were waiting impatiently.

When the 297 prisoners arrive in Rafah, they will travel in a convoy up to Gaza City where they will enter the city in a triumphal procession, kicking off massive celebrations which will be presided over by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Many prisoners exiled

Hamas's al-Aqsa television station was running wall-to-wall coverage of the exchange, playing patriotic songs over footage of crowds awaiting the prisoners' return.

In Gaza City, the streets were draped with the green flags of Hamas, which was one of three Gaza-based groups that participated in the 2006 capture of Shalit.

Tuesday's operation will see Israel freeing 477 prisoners, 297 of whom will be sent to Gaza. But only 133 of them are going 'home' - with the rest being exiled there from their homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Read more on:    gilad shalit  |  gaza  |  israel  |  middle east peace
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
24 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Find out who and what South Africans were most curious about in 2014!

 
 

I love summer.24

This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.