On 18 October, the Israeli authorities carried out the first of two agreed upon prisoner releases; 477 Palestinian prisoners, 300 of whom were serving life sentences, were freed in exchange for the release of IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas in Gaza since June 2006.
As the olive harvest officially begins, settler violence continues, with six Palestinians injured and around 900 olive trees damaged this week.
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released
in exchange for Israeli soldier
On 18 October, the Israeli authorities released 477 Palestinian prisoners, including 27 women, in exchange for the IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas since June 2006. Over 300 of the released prisoners were serving life sentences. The exchange took place in the context of prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Egypt.
Around 200 of the prisoners were either expelled from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip (approximately 160) or were deported to Syria, Qatar, Jordan or Turkey (approximately 40). A second, agreed stage of release, of around 550 additional Palestinian prisoners, should take place in the coming months.
On the day of the prisoner release, all Palestinian inmates who started a hunger strike on 27 September in protest at their conditions of detention halted their strike for three days.
In the context of the release, UNICEF appealed to the Israeli authorities to free all Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention. According to UNICEF, as of 1 October, there were 164 children (under 18) being detained by the Israeli authorities, most of them on charges of throwing stones in the West Bank.
Settler violence leaves six Palestinian injured
and around 900 olive trees damaged
Settler violence against Palestinians and their property remains high, with 11 settler-related incidents documented this week, resulting in six Palestinian injuries and damage to around 900 olive trees.
In three separate incidents in East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured three Palestinians, including two children (ages 10 and 15 years), in Al Thouri (Abu Tour) neighbourhood, Silwan and near the Old City. Also in Silwan, a Palestinian man was physically assaulted and injured by settler guards from the City of David settlement. Elsewhere in the West Bank, settlers physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian farmer while he was harvesting olives near Qarne Shomoron settlement (Qalqiliya governorate), and settlers also injured an 11-year-old Palestinian girl while they were stoning at Palestinian-plated vehicles driving near Bet El settlement (Ramallah governorate). Also this week, a female settler was injured when her car was hit by stones thrown by Palestinians in the Hebron governorate.