The Palestinian Resistance Movement of Hamas describes the prisoner exchange with Israel as a sign of the victory of the resistance against Israeli occupying.
Addressing tens of thousands of people in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, democratically-elected Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh welcomed the freed prisoners and described the prisoners as “heroes who have returned home with victory.”
Haniyeh said it was “a significant day for Palestine.”
On Tuesday, 477 Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli jails as the first part of a deal to release 1,027 Palestinian inmates in exchange for Hamas-captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Under the deal, which was mediated by Egypt, another 550 jailed Palestinians are expected to be released next month.
Shalit was captured in June 2006 by Palestinian resistance fighters after he infiltrated into the Gaza Strip.
Haniyeh added that all of Palestine will be liberated through resistance, adding that the great victory is not only for Palestinians but also for all Arabs.
He said that Hamas was committed to securing the release of Palestinians from all factions, which indicates unity of the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Meshaal said in a press conference in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Tuesday that the move is “a step in freeing all our prisoners from Israeli prisons.”
“Our enemy only gives in when under pressure,” Meshaal said.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, about 6,000 Palestinian detainees are currently held in Israeli prisons.