Israel delivered its side of the bargain in scenes of chaos.
The prelude – barrage after barrage of tear gas. Then the coach appeared.
Inside we saw them, the freed Palestinian prisoners revelling in their liberation. The crowd shouted “God is great!”.
The Israelis had issued orders banning celebrations for this homecoming.
Follow Israel-Hamas war latest: Freed hostages arrive at Israeli hospital
They were comprehensively ignored. The euphoria could not be supressed.
Hamas has exacted a price for returning a handful of hostages, not just the prisoners themselves but the scenes that accompanied them too.
Atop the bus a Palestinian youth waved green flags the colours of Hamas.
They will claim this as a victory and despite Israel’s best efforts this will strengthen Hamas in the West Bank.
The prisoners defied orders not to talk to cameras and were carried aloft through the crowd.
None of the prisoners listed for release have killed people but they have blood on their hands, say Israelis, for attacking Israeli police, soldiers and civilians with knives or other weapons.
For Israelis they are terrorists, for Palestinians they are heroes of the resistance against the hated Israeli occupation.
There had been a tense build up all day.
Israelis moved in to clear the area using tear gas and stun grenades. Some in the crowds were terrified.
At the start of the afternoon we had filmed a mother and father and their young daughters arrive waving while Palestinian flags.
Later we saw them fleeing the tear gas the girls in tears.
“The Israelis want nothing but violence,” their father told us.
Tension built as darkness fell.
As Hamas flags were marched into the crowd there were cheers of support for the Hamas military wing that carried out the 7 October attacks.
The Israelis responded with rounds of tear gas and in return Palestinians pelted stones from catapults.
There were casualties as youths were carried to ambulances. But what Palestinians will remember is the scenes of jubilation that will be repeated now in coming nights
Their brothers and sisters released into freedom.
And Hamas taking the credit.
Written by: Newsroom