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Hamas frees prisoners for Ramadan

July 21, 2012 at 2:36 PM

GAZA, July 21 (UPI) -- The Hamas government in Gaza freed 159 prisoners Saturday to mark the beginning of the Ramadan holy month, officials said.

Another 19 inmates were to be given home leave and 72 speeded up judicial proceedings, the Ma'an News Agency reported. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh proposed the releases, officials said.

Those released are required to swear to avoid committing more crimes and to enroll in rehabilitation programs. Last year, the interior ministry released 87 prisoners during Eid-al-Fitr, the feast that closes Ramadan.

Hamas has effectively controlled Gaza since 2007.

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