Israel releases 500 Palestinian prisoners
Israel early Monday started to free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. The released inmates were carried aboard Israeli buses to Erez crossing in the Gaza Strip and four other military barriers in the West Bank. Israel said it would release 500 prisoners as a goodwill gesture toward Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The Israeli government approved the release of the prisoners earlier this month. All of the released prisoners were required to sign a document stating they would not engage in "terror," Israel's Army Radio said. Those freed had not been involved in attacks on Israelis.
Israel plans to release an additional 400 prisoners within the next three months. A joint Israeli-Palestinian ministerial committee will decide which prisoners will be released in the second round.