6 minutes ago
About sharing

A van carrying Palestinian detainees arrives at the Israeli military prison, Ofer, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
By Lucy Williamson & George Wright
BBC News in the West Bank and London

A total of 39 Palestinian detainees are due to be released from Israeli jails on Friday in exchange for a group of hostages held by Hamas.

The deal – mediated by Qatar – includes a four-day pause in the fighting.

The detainees are accused of a range of offences, from throwing stones to attempted murder.

Red Cross buses are reported to have arrived at Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank ready to release the 24 women and 15 teenage boys aged under 18.

They will be transferred to an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank and then allowed to return home, according to Israel’s prison service.

The detainees were chosen from a list of 300 women and minors compiled by Israel.

Less than a quarter of those on the list have been convicted – the vast majority are being held on remand while awaiting trial. Most of those listed are teenage boys – 40% of them under the age of 18. There is also one teenage girl and 32 women.

Families of the 39 detainees due for release on Friday will gather later at a nearby checkpoint to receive them.

The road by Beituniya checkpoint, near Ramallah, is sharp with the smell of tear gas. Groups of Palestinian men and boys are facing the Israeli army lined up on the road ahead.

The army earlier fired rubber bullets and tear gas towards the crowd, to push them back.

Some of the young people gathered threw stones and tear gas canisters back towards the troops.

An uneasy calm has settled for now, as families begin to arrive. But the growing crowd is edging closer to the checkpoint again.

“It’s a sign of hope for Palestinians and Israelis that the ceasefire will continue and the killing will stop,” Mohammed Khatib, who was in the crowd, told the BBC.

“We would have liked this to happen without the hostages taken by Hamas but without them, Israel would not let these people out.”

It comes as a group of hostages currently in Gaza are set to be released by Hamas into the custody of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who will then take them to Egypt at the Rafah border.

The Israeli military say they are expected to be in Israel by around 18:00 local time (16:00 GMT), where they will be given an initial medical assessment at an airbase.

They will then be taken to hospital via helicopter to be reunited with their families.

The Thai prime minister says that 12 Thai nationals held hostage by Hamas in Gaza have already been released.

Once the hostages have been transferred, the Palestinian detainees are set to be released.

Israel and Hamas have reached a deal to exchange 50 of the hostages held in Gaza for a four-day pause in fighting.

The agreement should also see 150 Palestinians held in Israeli jails released and a significant increase in humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza.

Hamas took more than 200 hostages during a cross-border attack on southern Israel on 7 October in which 1,200 people were killed.

Human rights organisations say the number of Palestinians held without charge in Israeli jails has shot up since the 7 October attacks.

There are now thought to be more than 6,000 Palestinians held by Israel on security grounds – many still awaiting trial.

Almost every Palestinian family in the West Bank is thought to have had a relative detained by Israel at some point in the past – often in jails inside Israel, making it difficult or impossible for their relatives to visit.

Related Topics

More on this story

21 hours ago