Israel has completed a promised release of 26 detainees today, with 15 of them arriving in the Gaza Strip to a celebration with large crowds, and the other 11 sent to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, where they were greeted by Palestinian Authority officials.
The releases are the first of a total of 104 detainees Israel has promised to release within the next year as part of the agreement to restart peace talks, which are planned for Wednesday in Jerusalem.
Opponents of the detainees’ release fought until the last minute to prevent the releases, petitioning the Israeli High Court and warning that “no country on earth” would release detainees under similar terms.
The detainees were all long-term prisoners in the Israeli prison system, with the bulk of the crimes committed before the 1994 peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Proponents said that since the crimes came before the deal, the release should’ve happened long ago.
The court was seen as unlikely to veto the releases since they were part of a diplomatic deal, and they have been loathe to intervene in such matters.