Israel frees Palestinians, completing Hezbollah deal

Israel freed five Palestinian prisoners, completing its multi-stage exchange deal with Hezbollah.

Five Palestinian teenagers, all of whom were serving relatively short terms behind bars for throwing stones or Molotov cocktails at Israelis, were released Wednesday and returned to their West Bank homes, the Prisons Service said.

The amnesty concluded the United Nations-brokered deal under which Israel on July 16 recovered the bodies of two army reservists held by the Lebanese militia.

Hezbollah, which secured the return of four captured guerrillas and a jailed Lebanese terrorist last month, had demanded that Israel also release a large number of Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is in a power struggle with Hamas, has sought to win more sweeping amnesties from Israel. The issue was expected to come up in talks later Wednesday between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

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