Forty-two released Palestinian prisoners arrived in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Qatar on Tuesday after being set free as part of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.
The prisoners are considered the most notorious of 1,027 Palestinians and Israeli Arabs being released by Israel in exchange for abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip for five years and four months. Shalit was released Tuesday in return for 477 prisoners. The rest will be released in two months time
Of the 42 deported prisoners, 16 went to Damascus, Syria, 15 to Qatar, 10 Turkey, and one to Jordan.
Muhammad Waal, who was reportedly to serve a sentence of more than 1,600 years for his involvement in suicide attacks, spoke to Al Jazeera upon his arrival in Doha, the Qatari capital. “It’s a historic moment,” he said. “Not returning home leaves a scar, but we consider all Arab countries as our second home. As long as there are prisoners in Israel, the mujahideen will always try to free them.”
Jordanian Ahlam Tamimi, who was serving 16 life sentences for assisting suicide attacks, was permitted to return home to Jordan. Speaking to Al Jazeera upon her arrival in Amman, Tamimi expressed loyalty to Hamas’ military wing. “Allah has chosen soldiers for him on this land, and they are the soldiers of the al-Qassam brigades [Hamas’ military wing],” she said.
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