Israel released over 500 Palestinian prisoners late on Sunday night in keeping with the government’s deal with Hamas for the return of a captured Israeli soldier.
Back in October, 450 other prisoners were freed. Unlike then, none of the latest group of Palestinians were convicted of killings and this time most were from Fatah.
The prisoners were given a hero’s welcome by their relatives as they passed through the Ramallah crossing into the West Bank.
Israeli government spokesman Ofir Gendelman said: “Today we are completing the second phase of the deal that led to the release of Gilad Shalit. We are releasing 550 Palestinian prisoners, all of them are members of Palestinian terrorist organisations. We hope they will return and will relinquish violence; but if they do go back to violence we will hold them accountable.”
Gilad Shalit was handed back to Israel after being captured and held by Hamas militants for five years.
The controversial deal came after much campaigning by his family. Despite some opposition to the release of so many prisoners for one individual, the majority of Israelis backed the swap.