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Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners

31 December 2013 7:27

AP492174405495Israel has freed 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal for the resumption of so-called peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), an official says.

The release, which took place in the early hours of Tuesday, was the third of four planned stages for freeing Palestinian prisoners. All of the 26 Palestinians have spent between 19 and 28 years in Israeli prisons.

“Two vans carrying (18) prisoners left Ofer prison and were headed to Ramallah” in the occupied West Bank, the unnamed Palestinian official said, adding that three other prisoners were released to the Gaza Strip, and five to East al-Quds.

Two batches of 26 Palestinian prisoners were freed earlier in August and October.

Tel Aviv had said 104 Palestinians would be freed in stages following the start of the negotiations on July 30.

More than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli prisons, many of them without charge or trial.

In October, a large number of Palestinians from different political movements took to the streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah to call on the Palestinian Authority to pull out from the talks with Israel.

Supporters of all Palestinian factions, including the Islamic resistance movement Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, gathered in central Arafat square to protest against the talks.

The protesters said the talks are useless and acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas must withdraw from the negotiations.

They also called on the Palestinian Authority to take the regime in Tel Aviv to the International Criminal Court for its crimes against the people of Palestine.

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