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Israel frees 74 Palestinian prisoners


09:47, August 05, 2011

A newly released Palestinian (L) is greeted by his mother upon his release from Ofer prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Aug. 4, 2011. Israeli government released 74 Palestinians on Thursday. (Xinhua/Fadi arouri)

Israel on Thursday released 74 prisoners who completed their sentences, including a Hamas lawmaker from the West Bank.

"Their sentences completed months ago, but Israel delayed their release," said Ziad Abu Ein, director of the Prisoners' Affairs Ministry, refusing Israeli reports that this was a goodwill gesture.

Hassan Yousef, the Hamas official, was released after spending six years in prison. "The prisoners suffer sharply inside the prisons due to the arbitrary Israeli measures towards them," Yousef said.

Israel holds nearly 7,000 Palestinians in 25 prisons and detention facilities.

Israel has recently approved a series of punishment measures against Hamas prisoners after the Islamic movement rejected an international call to release information on the status of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held in Gaza since 2006.

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