AL-BIREH, OCCUPIED WEST BANK —
The government of Israel has released 26 Palestinian prisoners who were serving life sentences for attacks against Israelis 20 years or more ago. One of the freed men returned to his home in the West Bank town of al-Bireh, 15 kilometers north of Jerusalem.
Musa Quraan is spending his first day of freedom receiving family and friends he hasn't seen in 23 years. He was 20-years-old when he was sentenced to life in prison for killing an Israeli settler, released as part of confidence-building measures aimed at reviving the Middle East peace talks.
“The life of a prisoner is between four walls. He can’t communicate. And seeing the suffering of friends and family who visit is also very painful,” said Quraan.
Among the visitors is Quraan’s aunt, Fakhriyah. She hopes he now will marry and start a family.
“Today I raise my head high in the sky. I’m very happy and excited. Musa is like a son to me,” she said.
Many Israelis object to the release of those they consider terrorists. Israeli leaders sympathize, but say it was necessary to show they are serious about peace.
Quraan said he no longer believes in the violent ways of his youth. "Presently, I trust my leadership, which believes in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis in order to reach a peace settlement.”
For the neighborhood children, the school day is now over. They want to see the man they consider a hero of the resistance.
Quraan advises them to study and stay in school. Because, he said, it's only through education that Palestinians can build a state and help their homeland.