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Israel transferring Palestinian prisoners at checkpoint
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15:45, July 20, 2007

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Israel is transferring some 250 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jail at the Beitunya checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The prisoners, divided into groups consisting two or three people, were being taken to the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, where several buses are waiting to transfer them to Ramallah.

According to Israeli police officials at the checkpoint, 255 prisoners were released earlier Friday from the Ketziot prison in southern Israel, including 249 male and six female Palestinians.

Israel had been scheduled to free 256 prisoners, but the release of one of them was delayed due to legal and medical reasons, said one of the Israeli police official at the checkpoint.

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 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 Fatah's rival Hamas' violently seized the Gaza Strip last month after days of infighting with security forces loyal to Abbas.

Source: Xinhua

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