Israelis begin releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners

IAN DEITCH, Associated Press
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A person stands next to a banner with hand stamps in red paint during a protest in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, as people protested Israel's decision to release 26 Palestinian prisoners, most of them held for deadly attacks, as part of a U.S.-brokered deal that led to a resumption of Mideast negotiations. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

A person stands next to a banner with hand stamps in red paint during a protest in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, as people protested Israel’s decision to release 26 Palestinian prisoners, most of them held for deadly attacks, as part of a U.S.-brokered deal that led to a resumption of Mideast negotiations. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has begun releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners, most held for deadly attacks, ahead of renewed Mideast negotiations.

The Israeli prison service said buses carrying the inmates left a jail in central Israel late Tuesday.

Celebrations are planned in the West Bank and Gaza where they are viewed as heroes. Their release is very painful for Israelis who view them as terrorists. Israel released them late at night to prevent a spectacle.

Israelis and Palestinians are to launch talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday, following a preparatory round two weeks ago in Washington. The prisoner release is part of an agreement to restart the talks after a five-year freeze.

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