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Israel Frees Palestinian Prisoners

Palestinian former prisoner Mahmud Zaglil , center, who was just released from an Israeli prison hugs his mother as he is welcomed by family and friends after arriving to the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, Thursday June 2, 2005. Israel released 400 Palestinian prisoners Thursday as part of the February cease-fire agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
AP
Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on Thursday, completing a pledge made under a cease-fire agreement, hours after Israel and the Palestinians announced their leaders would soon meet for the first time since February.

The prisoners flashed the victory sign and kissed the ground after they were released from an Israeli military prison, reports CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger. Israel freed the 398 prisoners under a cease-fire agreement reached four months ago, with the aim of strengthening moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. But with 7,000 security prisoners in Israeli jails, Palestinians say it's still not enough.

In other developments:

  • Abbas was released from a hospital in neighboring Jordan after undergoing a heart procedure. Abbas, who has a history of heart trouble, told reporters he felt "just fine." Doctors said Abbas underwent a coronary angiogram — a common procedure to ensure that the arteries are not clogged. Palestinian officials said Abbas' June 21 summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon remains on schedule. Abbas' health is seen as vital for regional stability, says Berger.
  • Ending his three-year term on a note of pessimism, Israel's outgoing army chief Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon warned of new violence after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip this summer, predicted an eventual war with the Palestinian state, and said he fears for his country's survival. Yaalon, 54, leaves his job Wednesday with hard feelings over the defense minister's decision to dismiss him a year before he completed the traditional four-year term.
  • Israel security officials are considering renting a kibbutz, or collective farm, in southern Israel to practice for the upcoming evacuation from the Gaza Strip and West Bank settlements. Kibbutz residents would pretend to be settlers refusing to leave theirs homes.