Israel-Hamas war: Hostages, detainees freed as truce holds

Palestinian families welcome freed detainees home

A total of 28 released Palestinian detainees were taken from Israeli prisons to the West Bank on Friday, according to the AFP news agency.

Another 11 detainees were taken to east Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club advocacy group.

A total of 150 Palestinian prisoners are expected to be released over the course of a four-day pause in fighting.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Israel is currently holding 7,200 Palestinians, including about 2,000 arrested since October 7. Israeli law allows for holding suspects for months without charge in administrative detention.

Among those released were prisoners arrested for offenses including attempted stabbings, stone throwings at Israeli soldiers or having contacts with hostile organizations, as well as 15 teenagers jailed for offenses including throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.

In the West Bank town of Beituna, hundreds of Palestinians poured out of their homes to celebrate, honking horns and setting off fireworks.

“I can’t express how I feel. Thank God,” 17-year-old Laith Othman, who was among those released, told the Reuters news agency.

The teenager was detained earlier this year on suspicion of throwing an incendiary device.

“The situation inside [prison] is very difficult,” he added as he was carried along the street on another person’s shoulders.

Others said they had mixed emotions.

“As a Palestinian, my heart is broken for my brothers in Gaza, so I can’t really celebrate,” Abdulqader Khatib, a United Nations worker whose son was also freed on Friday, told the Associated Press.

His 17-year-old son, Iyas, had been taken into administrative detention without charges or trial and held based on secret evidence.

“But I am a father. And deep inside, I am very happy,” he said.

Biden welcomes release of hostages from Gaza

US President Joe Biden said the release of the first hostages under the deal between Israel and the militant group Hamas was “a start” and said there were “real” chances to extend the truce in Gaza.

The current deal stipulates a four-day pause in fighting.

“We expect more hostages to be released tomorrow, and more the day after, and more the day after that,” Biden said, adding that it was time to “renew” work on creating a two-state solution for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Source: DW

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