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Ramallah – The oldest Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli prison was released Monday after serving a 17-year sentence for arms smuggling, advocacy groups and his son said.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said Shubaki’s son Hazem confirmed that Fuad Shubaki, 83, was released from Ashkelon Prison and is “on his way to Ramallah” in the occupied West Bank.

When Shuvaki arrived in Ramallah, home to the tomb of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Palestinian officials jostling for an eighteen-year-old man in a Palestinian keffiyeh.

Young children waved the flags of the Fatah movement, and women proudly wore T-shirts with young Shubaki’s faces printed on them.

Among the crowd were Mahmoud Arul, vice-president of the Fatah movement, and Tawfiq Tirawi, often mentioned as a possible successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

After praying at Arafat’s tomb, Shuvaki vowed to continue the “resistance” of the late Palestinian leader.

“We will follow the path laid out by Yasser Arafat. We will continue his resistance at all costs. Not worth it,” he said. .

A senior member of the Fatah movement, Shubaki was arrested by Palestinian security forces in 2002.

He was accused of trying to smuggle arms from Iran to a coastal enclave of Gaza aboard the Carine A ship, which was captured by Israel in the Red Sea.

The Israeli military claimed the ship was carrying 50 tons of weapons, including short-range Katyusha rockets, anti-tank missiles and explosives from the Iran- and Lebanon-based Shiite movement Hezbollah.

He was detained by Palestinian authorities in the West Bank town of Jericho under US and British supervision.

In 2006, the prison was raided by Israeli forces and Shuvaki was taken to Israel and tried in a military court.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, later commuted to 17 years. AFPMore Israel releases oldest Palestinian prisoner

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