[Tuesday October 29, 2013] Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe’, stated that Israel will be releasing the second phase of detainees, 26, held by since before the First Oslo Agreement of 1993, tonight by midnight.Qaraqe’ said that 21 of the detainees are from the West Bank, and five from Gaza, and added that they will be sent to the Ofer prison, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, before being released.
The Minister added that the detainees would then be sent to the Presidential Headquarters in Ramallah, where President Mahmoud Abbas intends to personally welcome them, along with several political, social and religious figures.
Qaraqe’ called on the families to head to the headquarters in Ramallah, to welcome their released sons, and to refrain from gathering near the Ofer Israeli prison.
He added that none of the detainees would be deported, or sent into exile, adding that all detainees from the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, will be sent home.
Back in mid-August, Israel released the 26 veteran detainees, held since before Oslo; 14 of them are from Gaza and 12 from the West Bank.
Tel Aviv will be releasing more detainees on December 29, and on March 28 2014.
This was part of an agreement, mediated by the United States, to ensure the resumption of peace talks that were halted for three years due to ongoing Israeli violations, including invasions, arrests, and ongoing settlement activities.
The agreement is meant to ensure the release of all 104 detainees held by Israel since before 1993 on four stages.
The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights has reported that 25 of the 26 detainees are serving life terms, and one was serving a 28-year term.
The longest serving of the released detainees is Issa Abed-Rabbo, from Bethlehem; he was kidnapped on October 21, 1984. Six of them were taken prisoner in 1985, two in 1986, two in 1990, two in 1991, seven in 1992, three in 1993, and three in 1994.
Fuad Al-Khoffash, a former detainee, researcher, and the head of Ahrar center, said that the worst issue about this deal is that Israel is in full control of naming the released detainees, an issue that left the families facing agony and heartache not knowing whether their sons will be included.