The father was glued to his television screen for days, anxiously watching the news to see if his 17-year-old son would be among those released from an Israeli prison as part of the deal struck between the Israeli government and Hamas last week.
The deal offered a glimmer of hope to the father, Ziad Dawoud, 53, who had not seen his son for nearly a year since he was arrested for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers during a raid in their neighborhood, he said. Israeli authorities say that his son was arrested in connection with his affiliation with Hamas, according to a list of prisoners published by the Israeli government.
Then late Saturday afternoon, his son’s name, Tariq Dawoud, flashed across the screen among a list of prisoners expected to be released that day. Mr. Dawoud jumped in his car and raced from their hometown, Qalqiliya, a city in a northwestern area of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, around two hours to Ramallah, where hundreds waited outside of Ofer prison for their release.
Crowds have gathered each evening for days in Ramallah to welcome the Palestinian prisoners and detainees who have been released in exchange for hostages held by Hamas. Tariq Dawoud was among the second group, which was announced on Saturday.
An additional 39 Palestinians in custody were freed on Sunday, according to Israel’s prison service. After their release, hundreds of people crowded around them, hoisting them in the air and carrying them toward a main square in Ramallah.
A feeling of sheer relief washed over Mr. Dawoud and his son stepped off the bus of prisoners early Sunday morning, he said. The two hugged and the younger Dawoud went to kiss his father’s feet in a sign of respect, but his father refused to let him.
“I told him: ‘Oh my son, my love,’” the father recalled in a phone interview.
The two drove back to Qalqiliya, both still in disbelief. When they arrived at their house at dawn, dozens of relatives and friends rushed to greet the younger Dawoud. Then, they said, they paraded him around the neighborhood in a 15-car motorcade, honking their horns and shouting to announce his triumphant return.
“I couldn’t believe it, I felt like I was dreaming,” the younger Dawoud said in a phone interview Sunday evening.
“I still haven’t slept,” he added. “I’m almost delirious.”