"Jubilation in Palestine, anger in Israel as prisoners freed," from RT, December 31 (thanks to Maxwell):
Israel has freed 26 Palestinian prisoners convicted in deadly attacks against Israelis after a court rejected an appeal by the victims’ families to halt the move. The prisoner release is the third of four planned as part of US-brokered peace efforts. Most of the 26 inmates set free Tuesday were convicted of killing Israelis and spent between 19 and 28 years in prison. Almost all were jailed before the Oslo Accords, when the first Israeli-Palestinian interim peace deals were signed in 1993. Three of the prisoners were released to the Gaza Strip, 18 to West Bank and 5 to East Jerusalem.
Ahead of the release, several hundred protesters marched late Monday from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Residence in Jerusalem to the home of one of the terrorists, shouting: "Don’t release the murderers!" and "Death to terrorists!"
A number of streets were closed off due to the rally, organized by the chairman of the Almagor terror victims association, Meir Indor.
Passions ran high when the protesters passed by the US Consulate to rail against President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry, whose efforts helped resume peace negotiations in July after a three-year break. One man shouted: "Release terrorists in your own country!” while another added: "You have no right to put our people in danger!"
"At the end of the day, the release of these terrorists is a result of the pressure being imposed on Israel by Obama and Kerry," one of the protesters, Jonathan Benedek, told The Jerusalem Post. "I don’t believe that any prime minister in his right mind would willingly release these terrorists or believe this is a good thing for Israel strategically.”
Despite mass protests, the release of the prisoners was carried out overnight. Their relatives and supporters gave a heroes’ welcome to the men, celebrating with fireworks.
51-year-old Ahmed Shihadeh, from the Qalandia refugee camp in the West Bank, spent nearly three decades in prison after being convicted of the murder of an alleged collaborator with Israel. For the past two years his mother was unable to visit her son in prison because she could no longer walk.
"I've visited him in 14 jails. I would leave my kids screaming and go for a visit," Haseba Shihadeh told AP.
In total, Israel said 104 prisoners would be set free; 52 have been released prior to those 26 released on Tuesday. The fourth round of releases is due to take place in April.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged not to sign a final peace deal with Israel "before all the prisoners are released."...