There's a party going on in Ramallah. A celebration of epic proportions. Why? Murderers are free!
Thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah in the early hours of Wednesday morning to greet 21 prisoners released from Israeli custody to the West Bank as part of arrangements for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Five other Palestinian prisoners were released earlier in Gaza. All 26 were convicted murderers, most of them jailed for crimes committed before the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Cheers rose from the crowd, many of whom held Palestinian and Fatah flags, cameras and AK-47s aloft, as the released men were carried on shoulders from the vans that had brought them from Ofer Prison to the Palestinian city. Celebratory gunfire, whistles and shouts of Allahu Akbar were audible above the din.
The prisoners were greeted in front of Yasser Arafat’s mausoleum next to the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah by assorted Palestinian dignitaries, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, who kissed and embraced each of the men in succession.
Addressing the assembled Palestinians, Abbas said there would be no peace treaty so long as there are Palestinian prisoners behind lock and key in Israel. He promised to continue in his efforts to free all the prisoners from Israeli incarceration.