550 Palestinian Prisoners Released in Exchange, Waiting Families Attacked
On Sunday, December 18, 2011, 550 Palestinian political prisoners were released from Israeli prisons as part of the second phase of the prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit. Thousands of loved ones gathered all day long outside of Ofer prison in the Ramallah district of the West Bank to await the release of their friends and family members.
During the day the families celebrated with dances and speeches. At a certain point, Israeli Forces attacked the gathering shooting tear gas, rubber bullets, and using the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), otherwise known as the scream. LRAD emits high pitched frequencies that have the capacity of leaving those affected dizzy, nauseous, and at times incapacitated. At least four people were injured in the attack, including Linda Shalash, a reporter for Al Quds TV.
Several prisoners from Beit Ommar were released on Sunday as part of the prisoner exchange including Majde Za’aqiq, a member of the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in the village. Majde was arrested last August at the weekly unarmed demonstration in Beit Ommar, and he spent the last four months in Israeli prisons. Several Beit Ommar residents were also among those attacked outside of Ofer prison while they were waiting for their family members to be released.