Gaza, ALRAY -Israel transferred five Palestinian detainees to a Gaza border crossing from the Ofer detention center in the occupied West Bank late Tuesday, ahead of their expected release.
Twenty-six prisoners were due to be released late Tuesday as part of a four-stage deal to coincide with a return to peace negotiations in July.
All 26 were convicted of killing Israelis, with most of the attacks occurring before the 1993 Oslo Accords. A first group of 26 prisoners was freed on Aug. 13.
In Israel, the move to release the second group has sparked tensions within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, and around 2,000 Israelis rallied outside Ofer prison on Monday chanting “Death to terrorists!” and raising placards reading: “Are we crazy? We’re releasing murderers.”
Among the demonstrators was Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a hardliner from the far-right nationalist Jewish Home party, who vowed to ramp up settlement construction in response to the release.