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Palestinian families rejoice over release of minors, women – SUCH TV

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With tears of joy rolling down her cheeks, and a look of utter disbelief, Sawsan Bakeer ran down a flight of steps to greet her 24-year-old daughter, Marah, who had just been released after eight years in an Israeli prison.

Marah Bakeer is one of 39 Palestinian women and children released from Israeli prisons on Friday in exchange for 13 Hamas captives under a Qatar-mediated deal that includes a four-day truce in Gaza.

“I told you Marah is beautiful,” Sawsan told journalists, as she hugged her daughter and showered her with endless kisses. “Not because she’s my daughter, really, but Marah is beautiful, and you got to see for yourself.”

Before her imprisonment, Bakeer was a 16-year-old high school student at al-Maimouna School in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

Every day, she would make her way from the family home in Beit Hanina to school, crossing an expressway that runs between East and West Jerusalem.

While on her way home on October 12, 2015, Israeli forces shot and arrested her for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli officer. Bakeer and her family deny the accusations.

When she was arrested, Bakeer was lying on the pavement with 12 gunshot wounds to her arm and hand which have left her with permanent damage. She was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison.

A child when imprisoned, Bakeer was due to complete her sentence and return home in four months’ time.

Newly freed, Bakeer told reporters that her time in prison was hard, but that she had endured it with her faith in God and the support of her family and fellow Palestinian prisoners.

“There were many difficult times in prison, but just like anyone else going through life, they passed.

Prison was especially difficult because I was young [when I was jailed] and I needed my mother’s love and my family’s support.

“Although there were many fellow prisoners who took care of me and helped me, nothing can replace a mother’s love,” she said as Sawsan held onto her.

About 8,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, including 3,000 who have been detained over the past seven weeks amid an increasing number of armed Israeli raids across the West Bank.

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