In West Bank, Relief Over Prisoners’ Release Is Tempered by Worries About War

Since the war, new checkpoints have been erected and barricades built, making movement between some areas practically impossible. Violence by Israeli settlers has reached record highs, according to the United Nations. And the Israeli military has carried out nightly raids in the West Bank, in what it says are part of a counterterrorism operation.

“They have built fear in our hearts,” said Hanna Tufaheh, 50. “Everyone feels extremely depressed, and it’s extremely difficult for everyone.”

As she spoke, the sun began to sink beneath the beige apartment buildings of Ramallah. The call to prayer rang out from a nearby loudspeaker, and men lined up in the street to pray. Jihad Mtoor, 32, stood with a group of friends smoking cigarettes and waiting as cars brought more Palestinians.

For Mr. Mtoor and his friends, the release of prisoners was a small victory in a war they did not expect to end anytime soon.

“What we are here to celebrate came from Hamas in Gaza — this is not the first nor will it be the last prisoner deal with the Gaza war,” Mr. Mtoor said. As he spoke, his friends began rattling off the names of major Palestinian figures currently in Israeli prisons — hoping perhaps that they, too, could be released.

Among the names was Marwan Barghouti, 64, who is serving time in Israeli prison for killings committed during the first and second intifadas, which he led. Some observers believe he could be part of a larger prisoner exchange to help end the war.

The anger and frustration among Palestinians in the West Bank have been palpable, as the death toll in Gaza has grown, with more than 14,000 people killed, according to health officials in the enclave.

Mr. Mtoor said the war “will and already has encouraged the new generation to resist.”

“This will never end; this will continue from one generation to another until the land is liberated,” he added.

Jamal Abu-Hammad, 64, who works at a delivery company, agreed.

“Pressure leads to explosion,” he said. “They are putting pressure on the people in Gaza, and we are the continuation of the people of Gaza here in the West Bank — we will stand with them.”