Israel frees 26 Palestinian prisoners

Jerusalem, Dec 31: Israel has freed a group of 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a US-brokered agreement for resuming direct peace talks, BBC reported Tuesday.

They released prisoners, making up the third tranche of a total of 104 prisoners set to be freed, were greeted by cheering crowds on their return to the West Bank and Gaza.

Though Israel approved the releases Saturday, they were delayed to allow victims’ families to appeal.

The prisoners committed murder or attempted murder before the 1993 Oslo accords and have served 19 to 28 years.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who had previously hailed the 52 men released in August and October as heroes of the Palestinian cause, waited at his headquarters in Ramallah to greet the latest released men.

IANS