Global Market Data
Tales from the Trail
Lucy P. Marcus
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Macro & Markets
Personal Finance Video
Life & Culture
Year in 60 seconds: 2011
A multimedia showcase of some of 2011's top stories, including Japan's tragic earthquake, the Arab Spring, the demise of Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi, the shooting rampage in Norway, famine in Somalia and the Royal Wedding. Video
U.S. soldiers reflect on wounds of war
An uncertain future for Iraq as U.S. leaves
Batista bets on Brazil
Havel, leader of "Velvet Revolution," dies
Last U.S. troops leave Iraq, ending war
House Republicans oppose Senate payroll tax bill
Russian rig sinks, more than 50 feared dead
Security forces, protesters clash again in Cairo
Ron Paul gains ground, further stirring Republicans
Ron Paul strongly defends anti-war policies
Supreme Court to decide Arizona immigration law
Last U.S. convoy leaves Iraq
Philippines death toll rises
Sat, Dec 17 2011
Dozens die in Philippines storm
Sat, Dec 17 2011
Israel frees 550 Palestinians in Shalit swap
Israel due to free 550 Palestinians in Shalit swap
Jewish settlers set fire to mosque, defy Netanyahu
Thu, Dec 15 2011
Israel denounces settlers' attack on army base
Tue, Dec 13 2011
Gingrich calls Palestinians an "invented" people
Fri, Dec 9 2011
Israeli raids kill 4 Gazans; rockets fired at Israel
Fri, Dec 9 2011
Analysis & Opinion
Radical Jewish settlers spark soul-searching in Israel, govt cracks down
Goodbye to the myth of Iran’s “Mad Mullahs”?
1 of 2. People wait for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip December 18, 2011. Israel plans to release 550 Palestinian prisoners on Sunday in the second stage of a deal with Hamas that brought home soldier Gilad Shalit after five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip.
Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Salem
By Jihan Abdalla and Nidal al-Mughrabi
Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:12pm EST
RAMALLAH/GAZA (Reuters) - Israel released 550 Palestinian prisoners Sunday in the second stage of a deal with Hamas that brought home soldier Gilad Shalit after five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip.
While many of the 450 prisoners freed on October 18 in the first phase of the Egyptian-brokered prisoner swap were serving life sentences for deadly attacks, none in the second group was convicted of killings.
Nearly all of the prisoners passed through a crossing into the West Bank and were greeted by thousands of Palestinians who danced and cheered in the city of Ramallah.
Though Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, had reached the deal with Israel, most of the crowd waved flags from the rival Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the dominant party in the West Bank.
In Gaza, two buses with 41 prisoners, escorted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, passed through the Rafah crossing and were met by hundreds of relatives waving flags representing the different Palestinian factions.
"My feelings of joy are mixed with sorrow because we left behind beloved brothers, we hope all of them will be freed," said Samer Aweidat, who was released after serving four years of a six-year sentence for weapons possession and being a member of a miltant group.
Israel's Supreme Court opened the way for Sunday's release to go ahead by turning down a petition Friday from Israelis opposed to freeing the prisoners, whose terms ranged from a few months to 18 years.
They were convicted of crimes that included attempted murder, planting bombs and membership of militant groups.
Shalit was abducted in June 2006 by militants who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip and surprised his tank crew, killing two of his comrades. He was held incommunicado in the Hamas-ruled territory and a huge majority of Israelis backed the deal that brought him home two months ago.
Hani Habib, a political analyst in Gaza, said that Israel, given the opportunity to pick which prisoners would be freed in the second stage, chose inmates from Fatah rather than Hamas.
"Israel was interested in turning the victory that has been achieved into a Palestinian discomfort and a Palestinian division with its discrimination," he said.
Hamas said it would petition Egypt to pressure Israel into freeing all the Palestinian women in its jails, something it had wanted to happen in Sunday's release.
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Advertise With Us
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.