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Crowds cheer Palestinians prisoners released from Israeli jail

Thirty-nine Palestinian teenagers and women were freed from Israeli prisons on Saturday after the ceasefire deal looked in peril.

They were released as part of an agreement which has seen 26 Israeli hostages taken on 7 October returned.

It takes the total number of Palestinians released since the start of the temporary ceasefire to 78.

One of those released, Mohammad dar-Darwish, 17, said he was “dizzy with happiness” to return home.

The exchange was delayed after Hamas accused Israel of changing the agreed list of prisoners it would release.

Hamas also said not enough aid shipments guaranteed access to Gaza as part of the deal had made it through. But the handover proceeded after last-minute mediation involving Qatar and Egypt.

Israel denied breaking the terms of the agreement, which enters its third day on Sunday.

A crowd of people – including some waving the green flag of Hamas – greeted a coach carrying released Palestinians as it made its way through the West Bank, where detainees are being returned to initially, on Saturday night.

Six of them were women, while all the others were under the age of 18.

Among them was Mohammad dar-Darwish, who was held in an Israeli jail for seven months accused of throwing a petrol bomb at soldiers. He denies the charge.

Mohammad dar-Darwish was awaiting trial for a charge he denies

He said he was “dizzy with happiness” when he returned home and found his father and brother in the crowd waiting to greet the detainees.

Speaking to the BBC, he claimed Palestinian prisoners were mistreated after the 7 October attack. Israel’s prison service says it treats prisoners lawfully.

Israel has compiled a list of 300 Palestinian prisoners, mainly teenage boys, who are eligible for release under the deal struck with Hamas.

Most are in prison awaiting trial, with less than a quarter of those on the list having been convicted.

Among the adult women released was Israa Jaabis, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2015 when her car burst into flames 1.5km (0.9 miles) from a checkpoint in the West Bank.

Israa Jaabis was among the second group of Palestinian detainees released by Israel

Israel said it was an attempted car bombing and she was convicted, but Jaabis – now 38 – denied the charge, and her family has previously claimed the fire started because of an engine fault.

She suffered serious facial burns after the car’s engine caught fire, but had requests for surgery turned down by Israel’s prison authorities.

After being released eight years into her sentence, Jaabis was pictured hugging her son Mua’tassim, 15, who was eight years old at the time of his mother’s arrest.

A second group of Israeli hostages – all women and children – were released from Gaza on Saturday evening.

More detainees and hostages are set to be released on Sunday as part of the agreement.

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