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Hundreds of thousands rally to celebrate prisoner release
Published Tuesday 18/10/2011 (updated) 19/10/2011 09:45
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Palestinians wait at Beituniya checkpoint near the West Bank city of
Ramallah for the release of prisoners from Israeli jails October 18, 2011.
(REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Ramallah and Gaza City on Tuesday in celebration of the release of hundreds of prisoners from Israeli jails.

More than 200,000 people rallied at al-Katiba square in Gaza City, a Hamas official involved in organizing the welcome rally said.

Israel freed 477 prisoners, most of them to the Gaza Strip, where Hamas leaders greeted former prisoners piling off buses bearing Red Cross insignia.

"We are going home with dignity, thank God," one prisoner told Egyptian television from the bus.

Three cars belonging to the ruling Hamas movement followed by a Red Cross vehicle accompanied a convoy of eight buses carrying the prisoners to their waiting relatives in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

Hamas militants paraded through the streets of Gaza City celebrating the triumphant release, negotiated by the Islamist movement with Israel in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit.

A huge stage has been erected in al-Katiba square and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and released prisoner Yahwa Sinwar are scheduled to speak at the celebrations. Sources close to Hamas on Monday told Ma'an a third speaker would be a surprise addition to the agenda.

Hundreds of released prisoners will sit on the stage and break the walls of a symbolic jail built on the platform, officials said.

In the West Bank, classes were suspended so pupils could join sit-in tents and activities organized to welcome returning detainees, teachers' union chief Muhammad Suwwan told Ma'an.

President Mahmoud Abbas addressed huge crowds at his compound as buses headed to Ramallah carrying the first prisoners released under the historic swap deal.

"We thank God that you returned safe and sound to your families, your brothers, and your homeland after this forced disappearance because you struggled for your homeland," the president said.

"We pray that God enables us to see the rest of our sisters and brothers freed in this yard. Your sacrifices, and efforts and work were not in vain. You worked and struggled and sacrificed. You will see the results of your sacrifices in the independent Palestinian state.

"Brothers and sisters, your cause was and is still in our heart and minds. Our main worry was our brothers and sister in jails."

Abbas referred to charismatic Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine secretary-general Ahmad Sadaat, two high profile prisoners who were left out of the deal.

"We will see, God willing, very soon, our brother Marwan Barghouthi and Ahmad Saadat whom we wish a quick recovery."

Abbas thanked Egypt for its help in brokering the agreement, and promised to finalize reconciliation between his Fatah party and Hamas.

"Brothers and sisters, your families in homeland and in the world are with you everywhere. But I would like to tell you that all the merits, after God, are to our martyrs."
1 ) Jamal / Palestine
18/10/2011 13:19
a victory of Palestinian resistance over Zionists arrogance .

2 ) Raed Djany / Nablus
18/10/2011 13:19
Mabrook .

3 ) Yossef / Palestine
18/10/2011 13:20
sooner or later we will liberate all Palestine.

4 ) Mohammad / JENIN
18/10/2011 13:26
thank you Hamas

5 ) Ahmad / Gaza
18/10/2011 14:19
congratulation !

6 ) Abed / KSA
18/10/2011 14:19
again Palestinians make history.

7 ) Eliyahu / ISRAEL
18/10/2011 14:29
I am saddened to see Arabs celebrating the release of convicted murderers of innocents, including Arabs (in Haifa suicide bombing). I don't care whether Netanyahu did this to weaken Abbas for his UN speech, but Hamas is a force for evil, and will start throwing Fatah guys from tall buildings if, God forbid they come to power. It is enough to see the face of Shalit and the faces of terrorists to see the difference between good and evil. I pray for their repentance and return to the path of peace.

8 ) Reema / Nablus
18/10/2011 14:57
hamas bring more weapons to liberate Palestine from river to sea, our enemies are cowards, we just need weapons and god help nothing else.

9 ) Palestinian / Jenin
18/10/2011 14:59
welcome home our heroes. all Palestinians will come back to their homeland one day, don't give up.

10 ) Eman / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:00
now Egypt should help us to liberate Jerusalem.

11 ) Amal / Ramallah
18/10/2011 15:03
God bless Palestinian people .

12 ) Akram / Gaza
18/10/2011 15:05

13 ) Reem / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:05
woooooohooooo ?

14 ) Hanan / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:06
el7amdolelah (^_^)

15 ) Jamal Pekdemirov / Turkey
18/10/2011 15:08
? love u Filistin filistin and Turkey brother country....

16 ) Naje / Amman
18/10/2011 15:08
long live our heroes . mabrook.

17 ) Proud Palestinian / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:10
Long life Palestine !

18 ) Husam Ketaneh / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:11
allah akbar .

19 ) Nour / One-State
18/10/2011 15:13
A day for all Palestinians to cherish. Freedom comes at a price. My thoughts to the people who gave their lives for the freedom and dignity of our people. Let's not forget them. I hope this accomplishment will expedite practical reconciliation.

20 ) Goerge / Ramallah
18/10/2011 15:13

21 ) Nada / Ramallah
18/10/2011 15:14
Don't be defeated, always though, keep the faith! I ? Palestine

22 ) Heba / Bethlehem
18/10/2011 15:17

23 ) Hamsawi / Gaza
18/10/2011 15:21
we are too near to give victory to PALESTINE....INSHALLAH

24 ) Yazan / Amman
18/10/2011 15:22
May Allah help Palestine and Palestinians.

25 ) Bilel Gharbi / Paris
18/10/2011 15:23
in france, a lot of people are with palestiniens ! israel is a criminal state

26 ) Hajer / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:24
couse Allah always our side.. for you Palestine

27 ) Osama / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:27
Israel is the best when it comes to killing and when palestinians take arms and weapons in their hands. Israelis name them as terrorists.

18/10/2011 15:31

29 ) Daney / Bethlehem
18/10/2011 15:45
Palestinian people the best people on this planet. welcome home

30 ) Salma / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:50
From here and by our hands is written The History of Heroes . Long live Palestine !

31 ) Hezbollah fighter / Al-Dahia
18/10/2011 15:51
Palestinians, you can only claim your right by force. Everything that is taken by force, can only be reclaimed by force. Netanyahu doesn't want to go back to the 1967 borders, he doesn't want to give you east jerusalem, he will not stop the building of the settlements,and he will not accept a strong Palestine. You can't talk with zionists, you have to scare the crap out? of them, chase them wherever they are. Thats what we did in Lebanon, and that is why we are liberated now. Long live Palestin

32 ) Tamer / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:52
We are? the Revolution ! We are the Anger ! We are the Palestinian Youth !

33 ) Palestinian / Palestine
18/10/2011 15:53
3rdintifada (.) com

34 ) Hassan / Gaza
18/10/2011 15:55
thank you hamas, thank you resistance movements. very happy

35 ) real / usa
18/10/2011 15:55
love how u guys celebrate for murderers. sick bunch you are.

18/10/2011 15:59
Death to Israel...Death? to Israel

37 ) Honest Arab / Egypt
18/10/2011 16:00
I'm deeply sad and heart fell but all Muslims especially ARABS must over throw their present Governments because? they were all American DOGs. Only then The Palestinian can win the war with the Zionists.

38 ) Naser / Jenin
18/10/2011 16:00
Shame on? Israel ! Shame on the USA who supports this sh** ! Shame on the murderous Zionists ! One day they will pay ...

39 ) Jana / Ramallah
18/10/2011 16:02
may Allah bless Palestine. salami to all of? you brothers and sisters. welcome to freedom

40 ) Palestinian / LONDON
18/10/2011 16:08
I love you, MY PALESTINE, so much more than my life or anyone else's!!! Kullna bifdakeeeeeeee.

41 ) Luna / Ramallah
18/10/2011 16:08
aywaaaaaaaa? :-)

42 ) Palestinian refugee / Beirut
18/10/2011 16:09
I miss you Palestine, you will never leave my heart and my mind, I think about you day and night, and as I close my eyes I dream of the day that? will be free.

43 ) Ali / Gaza
18/10/2011 16:13
A day of pride and mixed emotions.

44 ) Ibn Hamas / Palestine
18/10/2011 16:17
#31) thank you brother, we know that.

45 ) Zeina S. / Palestine
18/10/2011 16:21
Free Palastine ....... Palastine tomorrow will be free Inshallah ..

46 ) Rawan / Ramallah
18/10/2011 16:24
"I AM A Palestinian" kill me & call it a mistake!, imprison me & call it security measures!, Exile my people & masses and call it a progress, rob my rights, invade my land, declare me as Terrorist & call it development. But listen, I AM A MUSLIM & WILL REMAIN ... FOREVER & REMEMBER FALL HAS A RISE & WHEN Palestinians WILL RISE EVERYTHING WILL FALL .

47 ) Yafa / Palestine
18/10/2011 16:28
Have a nice day palestine .Allah bless you

48 ) Abu Jihad / Gaza
18/10/2011 16:29
Its such a shame what Israel is doing.Shame on you ISRAEL!!!!

49 ) Wael / Amman
18/10/2011 16:32
Zionists are all terrorists. God help and free Palestine

50 ) Majd / Gaza
18/10/2011 16:34
allahu akbar. long live hamas and long live palestine.

51 ) Mary / Ramallah
18/10/2011 16:36
im so happy and u make me more and more happier...thnx.. :)

52 ) Ghassan / Jerusalem
18/10/2011 16:40
free Palestine.. the big day is so close.. soon Palestine is gonna get its freedom.

53 ) Manel Ben Hammouda / Tunisia
18/10/2011 16:40
my palestine I'm sure that one day you will be free. tunisian people pray for you

54 ) Fatima / UK
18/10/2011 16:42
Big love to you Palestinian heroes.

55 ) Bahaa al-Khatib / Palestine
18/10/2011 16:43
Palestine will be free, lets raise our hand, n pray for them.

56 ) Palestinianchristian / Palestine
18/10/2011 16:44
Go Palestine...!!!

57 ) Wissam / Nablus
18/10/2011 16:47
congratulation to all Palestinian mothers and fathers. happy day. so proud of resistance.

58 ) Palestinian / Palestine
18/10/2011 16:52
Freedom is life to those who do not have it.

59 ) Mazen / Palestine
18/10/2011 16:53

60 ) poor ibin poor / occupied Palestine
18/10/2011 17:51
maan, the mouthpiece of the PA and abbas, only publishes abbas's speech, the rest can hang themselves! are you now on abbas's payroll after you ditched fayyad (or he ditched you)? independent my a.... i am sure there was a last minute agreement between israel and abbas so the prisoners were transported to al-muqata3a so abbas can act as their liberator and show off instead of allowing them to hug their families who were left waiting for their children at Ofer.

61 ) @ Eliyahu #7 / USA
18/10/2011 17:56

I am glad that Shalit is home, despite the price, and think that
ISRAEL SHOULD EVEN CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING, as "Arabs celebrate the release of convicted murderers of innocents", like TEAR-GAS.

62 ) Fadwa / Ramallah
18/10/2011 17:57
Congratulations, what a happy day .

63 ) matt / usa
18/10/2011 19:09
wow so many comments from gaza and the west bank!!!! i didnt relaize there were so many computers and internet there. And by the look of the pictures i also thought there was a food shortage.

64 ) Amira / Canada
18/10/2011 19:28
Many thanks to the legitimate Resistance and democratically elected Government of Gaza! I hope all Palestinians will be freed!
Congratulations to all Palestinians!

65 ) Dana / Canada
18/10/2011 20:17
For All Of the people who are saying that they are celebrating the release of murderers. First. Most of the prisoners were captured & seized In bunch on the streets just because an isrealy officer thought they were dangerous.Mothers were captured too are they considered murderers too? & No offense But please.. If any of the people that were released is considered murders, Shalit Is even a worse murderer. Not only is he a soldier of the occupation but shooting civilians is NOT OKAI or HEROIC :)

66 ) Muslim/Christian / Palestine
18/10/2011 21:46
Whether you see me in mosque on Fridays or see me in Church on Sundays, In my daily life and in resisting occupation I am not other but PALESTINIAN. LONG LIVE PALESTINE.

67 ) Maureen / Australia
18/10/2011 22:27
Time will tell if the Israeli military harass the released Palestinian prisoners.

68 ) southparkbear / usa
19/10/2011 00:09
luna-tic #41 the guy did not have a chance to take a shower

69 ) Palestinian w bass / Palestine
19/10/2011 07:10
#66) very well said!
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