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Israel releases Palestinian prisoners
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15:45, July 20, 2007

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Israel on Friday morning released 256 Palestinians from jail, the prisoners are on their way to the West Bank city of Ramallah, local media reported.

According to the reports, the Palestinian prisoners set off from the Ketziot Prison in southern Israel, where they were put aboard buses in handcuffs and were being taken to the Beitunya checkpoint near Ramallah.

At the checkpoint, they will be transferred to the control of the Palestinian National Authority(PNA), completing the handover, said the reports.

Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth said on its website that some 150 of the prisoners being released Friday are from the Ketziot prison, while the others were brought to Ketziot from other prisons in Israel Thursday night for final checkups prior to their release.

The prisoners will be taken by bus to the Muqataa presidential compound in Ramallah, where they will be greeted by Palestinian officials, headed by PNA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and then will be transferred to their homes, said Yedioth Ahronoth.

Friday's release took place after the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Almagor Terror Victims Association against the move.

The court ruled Thursday evening that the release of Palestinian prisoners was a political issue to be decided by the relevant government authorities, not by the court.

The release was promised by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as early as in June, when he was attending a summit in Egypt's Red Sea resort Sharm el-Sheikh.

The move is aimed at bolstering Abbas and his Fatah party after the Palestinian Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.

Source: Xinhua

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