Palestinian Prisoners Arrive in Turkey and Syria

Eleven freed Palestinian prisoners, including one woman, arrived in the Turkish city of Ankara on Wednesday, as part of a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Palestine. The freed Palestinians were welcomed by Nabil Marouf, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Ankara. "We want to say deep, deep thanks to Turkey, the government, the people for all their help and support to Palestinians in general, and to what they did for helping and releasing these people," Marouf said at the airport. Meanwhile, in the Syrian capital of Damascus, 16 Palestinian prisoners were greeted by Hamas officials. Among them was the only female prisoner, Amna Muna, an activist from the West Bank. Muna was sentenced to life imprisonment for luring a 16-year old Israeli to his death after chatting with him online in 2001. Earlier on Tuesday, the only Jordanian female prisoner in Israel, Ahlam Tamimi, returned to Amman. Tamimi, of Palestinian origin, was a reporter at a local television station prior to joining Hamas' armed faction. She had served one decade of her sentence of 16 life sentences for her role in identifying locations for suicide attacks as well as accompanying bombers to some of the venues. In total, 1,027 Palestinians will be released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured by Hamas affiliates five years ago. In the first phase of the release, 477 Palestinian prisoners were set free, including 27 women. Of them 200 are from the West Bank but will be deported to the Gaza Strip. Forty of the prisoners who were serving time for deadly attacks were deported to Turkey, Syria, and Qatar. Khaled el-Meshaal, leader of Hamas commented on the monumental event, calling it a victory against Israel. "Today Israel has seen that not only has the Palestinian resistance remained steadfast against the war of 2008-2009, but it has defeated it. And today the heroes of the Qasam brigades and the heroes of the Palestinian resistance have made us proud. I invite our brothers in Fatah and all the Palestinian factions and leaders of the Palestinian Authority to join us in reconciliation," he said. The remaining 550 prisoners will be released in two months. "Yes, we are happy today, but our happiness is not complete, until they release you [the remaining prisoners]. This is a obligation for us. The release of all of our prisoners in Israeli prisons, whether they are from the West Bank, or from Gaza, or from Jerusalem or form 1948 Palestine, or among the exiles, or from Golan, this is an obligation for us," he said. Speaker: Nabil Marouf - Palestinian Authority ambassador, Ankara Khaled el-Meshaal - Hamas leader By Noora Faraj Al Arabiya with Agencies

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