14 Aug 2013

First set of prisoners released by Israel

8:24 am on 14 August 2013

Israel on Tuesday freed a group of 26 Palestinian prisoners, whose release was agreed as part of a deal that allowed peace talks to resume.

A group of 26 long-term prisoners, all convicted of attacks before 1993, were driven out of a jail in minibuses with tinted windows.

Some were taken straight to Gaza, others went to the West Bank.

Relatives and friends gathered on the frontier with Gaza and the West Bank, with bands playing bagpipes parading through flag-waving crowds.

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators began direct talks two weeks ago for the first time in three years. Another round of talks is due to begin in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Israel agreed to release the 26 prisoners as the first of 104 Palestinian and Israeli Arab inmates to be freed over the next few months.

The BBC reports the releases are hugely controversial in Israel. Earlier on Tuesday, the High Court rejected an appeal by a group that objected to the release of all of the prisoners.