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West Bank residents celebrate Schalit prisoner releases

October 18, 2011 09:15

Families wave Hamas, Fatah flags, chant "The people want a new Schalit"; hundreds celebrate in Umm el-Fahm, e. J'lem.

Palestinian woman at Ramallah prisoners rally

Palestinian woman at Ramallah prisoners rally 311 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank on Tuesday morning to celebrate the impending release of prisoners in the first stage of the Gilad Schalit deal, Channel 2 news reported.

Chants of "The people want a new Schalit," could be heard as Hamas and Fatah supporters waved flags together as part of large scale celebrations.

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Hundreds of Arab-Israelis gathered at the entrance of Umm el-Fahm on Tuesday morning to celebrate the release of a resident of the town who will be released as part of the deal.

A festive atmosphere also swept across the Mazudet Adumim Border Police station outside of east Jerusalem as about a hundred people, half of them youths, waved Palestinian and Hamas flags and set off fire works.

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"I'm so excited I have tears in my eyes, I just can't wait to hug him," said Halia Bazain, brother of Ala Adin Bazain, a resident of the Old City, who was in jail for 25 years.

"I feel so happy. It's really good but I think that straight away there will be two or three more Schalits," said Muhammed Isawiyeh, a distant relative of Ahaled Ahmed Muahatsi, from Issawiya.  "There are still 5000 Palestinian prisoners in jail."

Palestinians already started on Monday their celebratory preparations for welcoming the prisoners due to be released.

Chief of the High Committee on Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs, Amin Shoman, told The Jerusalem Post that the first venue for the reception will be Ofer Prison, near Betunia, about 3 kilometers south of Ramallah.

Nida Tuma contributed to this report.

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