The release of more than 400 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one detained Israeli soldier elicited waves of celebration Tuesday, both from relatives of Palestinian prisoners and Israelis anticipating the famed soldier's homecoming.
But the situation remains dicey for Israelis opposing the deal.
Hundreds of Palestinian family members turned out in Gaza and the West Bank to welcome their relatives, with some waving flags of the Islamist group Hamas.
Ahmed Qawasmi, 80, is awaiting the release of his son Amer, who was arrested when he was 17 and has been in jail 24 years.
"I am very, very happy for the release of my son Amer," he said, but added: "The celebrations and happiness won't be complete until all Palestinian prisoners are free from Israeli prisons."
Israel agreed to free a total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners - 477 on Tuesday, and 550 later this year - in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by Hamas for five years.
Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erakat described "an overwhelming feeling of humanity" Tuesday amid the Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap - and acknowledged that Hamas was able to achieve a deal when the Palestinian Authority could not.
"I have been talking to the Israelis for many, many years about prisoners - the need to release prisoners - and we could not convince," Erakat said.
"It's a good day, and we welcome it (in) the strongest possible terms, and we hope one day we will have nothing but peace on the two sides," he said.
Hassan Mousa, a Hamas leader in the West Bank, echoed Erakat's sentiment.
"This is a great day that (has) brought happiness to all Palestinian people," he said. "It has unified the Palestinian people together. It will free people who have been in Israeli jails more than 34 years and more than 30 years, and many more with high sentences, and will free the women and children alike."FULL STORY