Palestinians mark 'Prisoner's Day'

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Gaza/Ramallah, April 18: The Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip marked the Palestinian Prisoner's Day on Thursday, as Israel rejected to release the last batch of long-term prisoners and left the US-sponsored Middle East peace talks in a stalemate.

Demonstrations and sit-ins took place all over the Palestinian territories to back around 5,000 prisoners held in Israeli jails and detention camps, including 20 women and 235 children under the age of 18, Xinhua reported.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Eassa Qaraqea' and Ramallah Governor Laila Ghannam attended the commemoration and lit the flame which symbolised freedom in the square of al-Beereh town near Ramallah.

Hamdallah told the participants that President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership show great concerns toward the prisoner case and consider their battle as part of the Palestinian battle for freedom.

On March 29, Israel refused to free 26 long-term prisoners, the last batch of the 104 prisoners whom Israel agreed to free. It's part of a US-sponsored deal for resuming the nine-month direct peace talks, which started in late July and will end April 29.

Over the past eight months, Israel has already freed 78 prisoners, but refused to free the last batch unless the Palestinians agree to extend the nine-month talks to the end of the year. In response, the Palestinians re-applied for 15 international treaties.

In 2006, Hamas militants, together with two other minor militant groups, kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit during an armed attack near Gaza-Israel borders. In 2011 Hamas freed him for the release of 1,027 prisoners from Israeli jails.

The Palestinians mark the "Prisoner's Day" every April 17 since 1974, when the first Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Hijazi was freed from an Israeli jail in the first prisoner's swap deal between Israel and the Palestinians.


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