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Thousands in Gaza square for Palestinian prisoner release

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Thousands in Gaza square for Palestinian prisoner release

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As buses carrying Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel arrived in Rafah, friends, family and well-wishers were there to welcome them. 
 
In this first phase of the deal between the two sides, 477 Palestinians have been let out of Israeli jails in return for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
 
At a huge gathering in Gaza, the leader of the largest Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, was on stage with some of the freed men. Ismail Haniyeh is also the prime minister of Gaza, and the deal with Israel has boosted his popularity.
 
Hamas claim more than 200,000 people were in Gaza’s al-Katiba Square to mark the captives’ homecoming. A sea of people waved the green Hamas flag.
 
How this deal will affect domestic politics remains to be seen, as Hamas is a rival to the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.