Palestinian prisoners drew a deep collective breath Wednesday, after it previously appeared that negotiations over their release had reached a stalemate.
Prisoners at the Ktziot prison, who are scheduled for release as a good will gesture by Israel to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, eagerly followed the proceedings at the Annapolis peace summit Tuesday in order to find out just when their official pardon would come.
Prisoners had first assumed that they would be released at the beginning of this week (prior to the peace summit on Tuesday), but when no signs of their discharge came, many inmates began to wonder whether the agreement guaranteeing their release had fallen through.
A Palestinian security prisoner scheduled for release told Ynet: “The long wait for freedom took both the ‘rush’ and the joy of liberty away from both us and our families.”
'Our tension levels are mounting'
The “all clear” for the prisoners finally came as the Palestinian Authority's Prisoner Affairs Bureau announced that they would be released this coming Sunday. More signs of freedom came as prisoners’ representatives were contacted by the Red Cross, and the prisoners themselves were asked by prison officials to sign an agreement that they would not engage in terrorist activities against Israel as a condition of their release.
The aforementioned security prisoner said that he and his fellow inmates have lived in constant fear and uncertainty over the last two weeks, perpetually anxious that the agreement guaranteeing their release would fall through. Several prisoners even tried to contact the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister, as well as well as the local press, in order to gauge the latest concerning their release.
“One day they tell us that Peres (Israeli President Shimon Peres) did not approve the deal. The next day they tell us that our release will come on Sunday,” said the security prisoner.
“Then they moved our discharge up to Tuesday, and so on and so forth. Our tension levels are mounting and we live in constant uncertainty. Lord knows similar deals have fallen through at the last minute.”