Low-key victory party greets first round of released prisoners at Mukata in Ramallah

West Bank crowd welcomes home 11 of 26 freed Palestinian prisoners released as Israeli gesture on eve of resumption of peace talks.

By
August 14, 2013 01:28
4 minute read.
A newly released Palestinian prisoner is greeted by his mother in Gaza, August 14, 2013.

prisoners erez crossing 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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When news that 11 Palestinian prisoners had crossed the Beitunya checkpoint hit the square in front of the Mukata presidential compound in Ramallah late Tuesday night the crowd burst into applause, a troupe of bagpipe players started marching, and revelers held each other aloft cheering the men’s impending return.

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Just like that, the mood at the Mukata changed. What had been a low-key celebration attended by a few hundred people became the triumphant moment Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hoped for – if a far smaller affair than if it had been held in the daytime hours.

Within the hour it was over – Abbas had concluded his remarkably short speech and the 11 security prisoners had been spirited away to their families, after having been carried on the shoulders of loved ones in circles around the plaza, giving interviews to dozens of television channels and beaming for the cameras.

Perhaps reflecting the cynicism about the negotiations in Washington, neither Abbas nor almost any of the released prisoners observed by The Jerusalem Post mentioned the peace talks that their very release was a precondition of, preferring instead to praise the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, and issue calls for the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Such calls were repeatedly made in a series of shouldertop interviews by Taher Zaboud, who was set for release in February 2014 after he was imprisoned in February 1993 for his role as the accomplice in the murder of Avraham Cohen.

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