More than 250 Palestinian prisoners, mainly members of the secular Fatah faction, have been released early by Israel in a “goodwill” gesture towards Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.The prisoners were greeted as heroes by supporters and family members alike. The aim of the US-backed deal is to bolster the Palestinan president after the rival Islamist Hamas faction recently took over control of Gaza. Earlier, as the detainees crossed the check point from Israel, the emotion was clear to see on their faces. In addition, Israel has agreed to stop hunting militants linked to Fatah in return for promises to hand in weapons and join formal security forces. The Israeli authorities have tried to reassure critics of the move that no member of Hamas has been released, and that none of the prisoners has been responsible for crimes which involved loss of life. The West is seeking to isolate the Islamist Hamas movement for refusing to renounce violence and recognise Israel.