Stage two of Schalit deal: Prisoner release begins

Convoys of buses leave Ayalon Prison to complete the second stage of the Gilad Schalit deal; most prisoners will be released to the West Bank, had release dates in the near future.

December 18, 2011 21:24
1 minute read.
Ketziot Palestinian prisoner convoys

Ketziot Palestinian prisoner convoys_311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Convoys of buses carrying 550 Palestinian prisoners set to be released in the second stage of Gilad Schalit swap deal left the Ayalon Prison Sunday evening. The buses arrived several hours later at various prisons and crossings where the Palestinian prisoners were set to be released at 10 p.m.

The majority of the prisoners -- 505 -- who were scheduled to be released into the West Bank arrived shortly after 9 p.m. at the Ofer Prison, where they were originally set to be released at the adjacent Beituniya Crossing. Due to disturbances on the Palestinian side of the crossing, however, they will be released at the Kalandiya crossing near Jerusalem, Channel 1 reported.

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One soldier was lightly injured as security forces attempted to quell disturbances. Some 400 people demonstrated on the Palestinian side of the crossing, some throwing stones and burning tires.

Forty-one prisoners were to be released to the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing. Ahead of the release of the prisoners to Gaza, the OC Southern Command Tal Russo declared the area surrounding the Kerem Shalom crossing a closed military zone.

Two more were being sent to homes in east Jerusalem, and another two were sent across the Allenby Bridge border crossing to Jordan.

A total of 1,027 prisoners will be free by the end of the deal.

During the first phase in October, Hamas released Gilad Shalit after holding in captivity for six years, and Israel released 477 Palestinian prisoners, including participants of some of the bloodiest terrorist attacks in the last decade.

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