Deported Palestinians arrive at destinations in exile
Among those sent to Turkey was Amna Muna, who had been serving a life sentence for her part in the murder of Ofir Rahum, an Israeli teen from Ashkelon. Muna was supposed to go to Gaza, but refused to enter the territory.
The 42 deported Palestinian prisoners released as part of the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas reached their destinations Wednesday: 16 went to Syria, 15 to Qatar, 10 to Turkey and one to Jordan.
Among those sent to Turkey was Amna Muna, who had been serving a life sentence for her part in the murder of Ofir Rahum, an Israeli teen from Ashkelon. Muna was supposed to go to the Gaza Strip, but she refused to enter the territory - apparently because she is a secular Muslim.
Ahlam Tamimi, who had been sentenced to 16 life terms for her role in the 2001 suicide bombing at a Jerusalem branch of the pizza chain Sbarro, and was considered one of the leaders of the female Palestinian prisoners, went to Jordan, in part because she holds Jordanian citizenship.
The released prisoners who were sent to Syria were greeted in Damascus by members of parliament, Ba'ath Party figures and many high-ranking Hamas officials.
The 165 released prisoners who were deported to the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, have begun settling into their new lives. They were distributed among a few beachfront hotels, and each one received $2,000. Some of the men were quoted in foreign news reports as saying they wanted to find a wife and start a family.
Wafa al-Biss, who was arrested in 2005 carrying explosives that had been sewn into her underwear - she intended to user her permit to enter Israel for medical treatment in order to carry out a suicide bombing - told cheering schoolchildren who welcomed her home to the Gaza Strip that she hoped they would follow her example.
"I hope you will walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs," Biss told dozens of children who came to her home on Wednesday.
In Turkey, 10 Palestinian men and one woman made V-for-victory signs as they arrived in Turkey early Wednesday as part of the thousand-for-one prisoner exchange, television pictures showed. A privately-owned plane flew them to Ankara, where they were met by the Palestinian ambassador to Ankara Nabil Maarouf and Turkish Foreign Ministry officials.
"We are grateful to the Turkish government for its support in the process of releasing the Palestinians and bringing them to Turkey," the state-run Anatolian news agency quoted Maarouf as telling reporters at the airport. "God willing we will continue to seek Turkey's support until Palestine attains freedom," he added.