With a constant drumbeat filling the air in Gaza, Hamas was on hand to welcome the first of the released Palestinian prisoners with open arms.
Of the 447 freed today, Gaza gets the lion’s share, with nearly 300, over half of which have been exiled there.
Another 40 are exiled abroad, with the rest going to the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was mobbed; hugging prisoners and being embraced in turn.
A huge demonstration, estimated at some 200,000 people, turned out in the streets of Gaza to add their joy to the occasion.
The border crossing at Rafah was gridlocked with the crowds.
The release is a major coup for the rulers of Gaza, Hamas, who will milk the success for any political capital it can, as it continues to make its case for the overall leadership of the Palestinian people.
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