I was walking down to Sulaiman's place from downtown Ramallah when I saw a car speeding down with Palestinian, Fatah and Marwan Barghouti flags flying out the windows. I wondered what was up.
Turns out tonight was the release date for the second wave of prisoners from the Gilad Shalit swap. Tonight, 550 prisoners were released. Souli and I heard the procession of buses and honking cars outside a cafe around 10:30pm, so we walked to the Mukataa (government palace....area) to watch. This wave of prisoners was mostly from Fatah, and mostly serving short sentences, unlike the last swap.
Here's the article from CNN.
"This deal is a formality that doesn't meet our expectations. The second stage of this deal didn't include old, ill or handicapped prisoners. It also didn't include the remaining five female prisoners inside Israeli jails. This deal was solely controlled by the Israeli side," Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority minister of Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs, told CNN.
"We will welcome and celebrate the prisoners in the Mukataa upon their release. The fact that the release will take place during the night will not affect our celebrations. Israel decided to release them at night with the wrong assumption that this will affect the intensity of the celebrations. The celebrations will start tonight and will continue for several days in different districts and towns, each prisoner will be celebrated in his own hometown," Qaraqe said.
Here's some of the video I took:
Not that I'm trying to beat this connection to death, but it made me think of the celebration in New Orleans after the Saints won the Superbowl. Everyone was so ecstatic.