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  Saturday, October 19, 2019
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Israel is releasing nearly 400 Palestinian prisoners
Israel is releasing nearly 400 Palestinian prisoners, just three weeks before a scheduled summit between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Mahmoud Abbas. The prisoners began boarding buses for the ride to various drop off points and their return home to Gaza or the West Bank. They were greeted by cheering relatives as they stepped off the buses. Some of the prisoners kissed the ground, others waved Palestinian flags. The release has been a long time in coming. According to the overall cease-fire agreement struck between Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas at their February summit in Egypt, Israel agreed to release 900 Palestinian prisoners. Five hundred were released shortly after the summit, but numerous delays kept the rest from being set free. Israel holds about 8,000 Palestinian prisoners Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the release comes at a time of calm. Mr. Olmert told Israel's Army Radio the release is to send a sign of support for the Palestinian Authority, reports VOA News. According to ABC News, doctors said Abbas underwent a coronary angiogram a common procedure to ensure that the arteries are not clogged. Palestinian officials said Abbas' June 21 summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon remained on schedule. The 398 Palestinian prisoners were released at different checkpoints Thursday in the West Bank and at the Erez crossing into Gaza, where they were warmly welcomed by joyous relatives. In Tulkarem, the prisoners flashed victory signs, praised God and kissed the ground as they got off Israeli buses. The men boarded Palestinian buses, which took them about 100 yards to their cheering relatives. Young girls threw candy as the prisoners were reunited with family members. Prisoners herded into cars at the Erez crossing were cheered by crowds as drivers honked and waved Palestinian flags out of windows
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