Abbas, Hamas join forces to welcome prisoners

West Bank residents celebrate Schalit prisoner swap; Abbas promises prisoners will see results of their struggle in Palestinian state.

October 18, 2011 14:09
2 minute read.
Abbas addresses released prisoners in Ramallah

Abbas addresses released prisoners in Ramallah . (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

RAMALLAH – Thousands of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank on Tuesday to celebrate the release of 477 prisoners in the first stage of the Gilad Schalit exchange.

Chants of “The people want a new Schalit,” could be heard in Ramallah as Hamas and Fatah supporters waved flags together.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Hearing on Schalit deal petition ends; no decision issued
Gallery: Gazans prepare for prisoner exchange
'Pardons for Schalit deal prisoners to be finished on time'

During a rally at the Mukata presidential headquarters in the city, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the release of the prisoners as a victory for the Palestinian people.

In a rare display of national unity, he and Hassan Youssef, a senior member of Hamas, spoke from the same podium as people rushed to the front to greet their released relatives.

Abbas promised the prisoners that they will see the results of their struggle and sacrifices in the independent Palestinian state.

“Your cause was and is still in our heart and minds. We see some of you out, and the rest will follow soon if God wills,” he told the released prisoners.

Abbas referred to the prominent Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, the ill Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine secretary-general Ahmad Sadaat, and Hamas military commander in the West Bank Ibrahim Hamed, who were left out of the deal, expressing hope they will be released soon.

“I call upon the Israeli government to keep its promise,” he said.

Palestinians around the world were watching as the prisoners were being released, Abbas said.

“Dear brothers and sisters, your families in the Palestinian territories and around the world are looking at you now and are happy that you are being released,” Abbas said. “I ask Allah to forgive these martyrs.”

Upon their arrival, released prisoners went to Yasser Arafat’s tomb to place garlands of flowers there.

The president’s speech was overpowered by the voices of the families welcoming their relatives.

People gathered across the presidential headquarters, greeting their loved ones with hugs, kisses and tears.

“After 30 years in prison, what do you expect me to feel when I see the sun for the first time?” Ibrahim Jaber asked.

He told The Jerusalem Post that his first priority is to build his house, and that he missed his family a lot.

The prisoners ended their hunger strike on Monday, and Jaber told the Post that the Prisons Service agreed to most of their demands.

Saadat, however, continued his strike.

The Public Servants Union gave workers the day off on Tuesday, starting at 10 a.m., to allow greater participation in the rallies.

Palestinians across the West Bank waited for their released relatives in their hometowns, where festivities were also held.

People are expected to visit the big tents pitched for the occasion across the West Bank into next week to congratulate the released prisoners.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Click for full JPost coverage on Gilad Schalit

Related Content

July 19, 2018
Sources close to Netanyahu: Trump knew the Iran nuclear deal was bad