[Tuesday at Dawn, December 31, 2013] Israel released 26 veteran Palestinian detainees, as part of the third phase of releasing all detained Palestinians held by Israeli since before the first Oslo peace agreement of 1993.Palestinian sources have reported that the detainees were moved to the Ofer Israeli prison, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and to the Erez terminal leading to the besieged Gaza Strip.
Three of the freed detainees from the Gaza Strip were transported to Gaza, via Erez terminal, while the remaining 18 West Bank detainees were transported to the Ofer prison, near Ramallah, and three detainees from Jerusalem were sent to Al-Eesawiyya military base before they were all released.
The detainees are members of several national and Islamic Palestinian factions.
Despite the cold, thousands of Palestinians gathered to welcome the released detainees, carrying Palestinian flags and flags of different factions, while chanting slogans calling for both the liberation of occupied Palestine and the liberation of all detainees held by Israel.
Eyewitnesses stated that Israeli soldiers and police officers attacked dozens of Palestinians who gathered near Ofer prison and the military base in Al-Eesawiyya; several Palestinians have been wounded.
The fourth and final stage of releasing veteran detainees will be conducted on March 28, 2014. In total 104 veteran detainees will be freed.
During the first and second phases, Israel released, back in mid-August, 26 veteran detainees (14 from Gaza and 12 from the West bank) and, in late October, it released 26 veteran detainees (21 from Gaza and 5 from the West Bank).