Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Wednesday, August 06, 2003
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Special Birthday Edition: Israel Releases Palestinian Prisoners

A good start makes for a fine birthday present:

* - First batch of Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel as 'goodwill gesture': Israel freed the first batch of more than 300 Palestinians slated for release, transporting the prisoners to relatives who greeted them with waving flags and chants of "Welcome" and "God is Great."

A Palestinian taxi carried the first batch of men from Israel's Erez checkpoint into the Gaza Strip. The men emerged from the taxi and kissed the ground.

* Al Bawaba - Israel starts to release Palestinian prisoners: The first bus of sixteen people left "Ketziot" prison, south of Beersheba, at 7 a.m. (local time). Other buses have left the Megiddo prison in the North. The release is set for2 : 30p.m. (local time) at various checkpoints. An Israeli military source said no changes have been made regarding either the schedule or the number of prisoners to be set free Wednesday.
Each prisoner will be obligated to sign a form promising not to be involved in any further "terrorist activity" against Israel. Anyone who refuses to sign it will be returned to jail, said a top Israeli army officer.

* Ha'aretz - Israel begins mass release of Palestinian prisoners: 182 of the men are security prisoners, while 157 are administrative detainees. Another 99 prisoners, mostly criminals and Palestinians who were caught without permits inside Israel, will be released from Prisons Service facilities over the coming days.
Israel is hoping for the event to be widely covered by the media, to show it is taking confidence-building measures, but the Palestinians are expected to use the release to highlight the plight of thousands more still in Israeli custody.
While the Palestinian Authority is not planning to turn the prisoner releases today into a major celebration to drive home its dissatisfaction with the number of freed prisoners, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are planning processions and rallies to celebrate their activists' releases, even though none of the prisoners being freed are considered very high-ranking. According to Palestinian sources, Hamas and Islamic Jihad want to demonstrate that it was their unilateral declaration of the hudna that won the prisoner releases, and not PA government actions.


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