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Gilad Shalit deal: West Bank prepares to welcome Palestinians home

West Bank Palestinians whose family members are on the list of prisoners to be exchanged for Gilad Shalit are joyful. For those not on the list, it is bittersweet.

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While Israelis demonstrated outside the country's Supreme Court, demanding that it block the release tomorrow of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some Palestinians excitedly prepared for the homecoming of family members they haven't seen in decades.

In the Palestinian village of Kobar, eight miles northwest of Ramallah in the West Bank, Hanan Barghouti tied green Hamas flags around the heads of her children, nieces, and nephews. “The house has been empty without my brothers,” says Ms. Barghouti, who is a relative of Marwan Barghouti, possibly the most high-profile of all the Palestinian prisoners, and not included in this week's swap.

Both her brothers are serving sentences in Israeli prisons. Nael Barghouti, the longest serving Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail, will be released tomorrow after 34 years. His release is part of the prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel that has planned to exchange 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for the high-profile Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped in 2006. It is the largest number of Palestinian prisoners ever exchanged for one Israeli.


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