The planned prisoner release was the third of four scheduled that will ultimately set free 104 Palestinian prisoners who had been sentenced to Israeli jails for crimes committed before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
A petition to block the prisoner release was struck down by the High Court of Justice late Monday night.
Eight prisoners were released around 10 p.m. local time. The remaining eighteen were expected to be transferred from the Ofer Prison to the Bitounai Checkpoint near Ramallah after midnight local time.
Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Karak said “We are very happy for the release of our prisoners, who have spent 20 years in jail, and see this as a step towards freedom for all our prisoners.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faced criticism for the release, told Israeli lawmakers "The state of Israel, I believe, has a strategic interest in the existence of diplomatic negotiations whose goal is to achieve an agreement that will end the conflict.”
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