Israel frees 39 Palestinians under truce agreement
November 25, 2023 02:04 AM
A Palestinian NGO said Friday that 39 prisoners had been released by Israeli authorities under a truce agreement to pause the fighting in Gaza after 13 hostages from Israel had been handed over.
A total of 28 prisoners were released in the occupied West Bank, an AFP correspondent saw, while the other 11 were brought to annexed east Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club advocacy group.
Two white coaches, escorted by armoured vehicles, were seen leaving the Ofer military camp in the early evening.
The Palestinian prisoners inside the buses in Beitunia were greeted by large crowds, many of whom chanted "God is great", and bursts of firecrackers that lit up the night sky.
The 39 were freed under a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, which released 13 women and child hostages seized in its attack on southern Israel on October 7.
Israeli prison authorities confirmed 39 inmates had been released, describing them as "the first group of detainees freed under the plan to bring the hostages home".
The detainees' affairs department of the Palestinian Authority issued a list of 24 women and 15 minors being freed.
They included Malak Salman, who was arrested seven years ago on her way to school -- when she was 16 -- for trying to stab a policeman in Jerusalem.
Now 23, she was returned to her home in Beit Safafa, in annexed east Jerusalem, under Israeli police escort.
"The police are in our house and are stopping people coming to see us," her mother Fatina told AFP.
"My daughter is weak, she has not eaten since yesterday," she added.
Israeli police have issued orders banning celebrations in Jerusalem for released prisoners. White plumes of smoke were seen as authorities fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.