Global Market Data
Global News Journal
Pakistan: Now or Never?
Front Row Washington
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Personal Finance Video
Life & Culture
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Full Article
Who's behind the Wall St. protests?
Alleged Iran plot may have violated U.N. treaty
AOL CEO pitches investors on Yahoo deal: sources
12 Oct 2011
Alabama immigration law decried, applauded as some flee state
12 Oct 2011
Gibson Guitar CEO slams U.S. raids as "overreach"
12 Oct 2011
California governor signs controversial ”Dream Act”
Hank Williams Jr. lashes out at media in new song
Who’s behind the Wall St. protests?
Japanese airline, ANA, apologises for plane flip
Fri, Sep 30 2011
Rihanna's "inappropriate" outfit halts music video
Tue, Sep 27 2011
China : what is a "hard landing"?
Sun, Oct 9 2011
Israel-Palestinian swap due in Sinai next week
Exclusive: Red Cross discusses prisoner swap with Israel, Hamas
Analysis & Opinion
Why Countrywide bankruptcy likely won’t solve BofA MBS problems
Will the next Steve Jobs be a woman?
Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is seen in this file still image from video released October 2, 2009 by Israeli television.
By Douglas Hamilton
TEL AVIV |
Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:32am EDT
TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will be freed from five years of solo captivity in the Gaza Strip sometime next week in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
The swap is expected to take place on Egyptian territory at locations somewhere in the Sinai Desert, as yet undisclosed.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has facilitated other prisoner swaps, has offered its services and is discussing this with Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
"We are talking to both sides about our offer. We have offered our services as a neutral intermediary to both sides," ICRC spokesman Marcal Izard told Reuters in Geneva.
No details of the timing and choreography have been made public. But the approximate mechanics of the exchange can be sketched from details gleaned from Palestinian and Israeli sources.
The handover will begin with carefully timed, simultaneous moves somewhere in Egypt. But Shalit and the men and women for whom he is being traded are not likely to even come close to seeing each other.
The deal, over three years in the making and a casualty of at least two breakdowns, was finally brokered last week with Egyptian mediation between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
It was signed and announced by both on Tuesday evening.
Israeli law, which stipulates a 48-hour period for any citizen to formally oppose the release of any prisoner, plus this week's Jewish religious holiday, mean it is likely to be Tuesday at the earliest before the operation can take place.
Shalit is 25 and has been the focus of an emotional campaign since soon after his capture in June 2006. He was last seen, looking pale and thin, in a 2009 video shot by his captors, and he is sure to get a hero's welcome in Israel.
The Palestinian side, too, is preparing to celebrate the release of 450 men and 27 women, including prison veterans held in Israeli jails for 30 years.
Some will be greeted at home. Others will be exiled to third countries, as yet unnamed, without stopping on Palestinian soil.
One member of a Gaza militant faction who is involved in arrangements to receive prisoners set to return to the enclave forecast the handover for Tuesday "if all goes smoothly."
Israel occupied the Gaza Strip from 1967 to 2005, when it withdrew settlers and troops. Control of the enclave was seized in 2007 by Hamas militants who drove out the mainstream Palestinian movement Fatah, with a pledge never to recognize Israel and to keep fighting "the Zionist entity."
Somewhere in Gaza is the secret cell where Shalit, abducted in a raid by Hamas and allied gunmen who tunneled under the front line, has been held for years, without visitors, to extract the maximum concessions from Israel in a prisoner swap.
It is expected that Shalit will be taken across Gaza's southwestern border into Egyptian territory while groups of Palestinian prisoners are transferred from Israeli jails to the Egyptian border near Eilat, on the edge of the Sinai Desert.
Former enemies Egypt and Israel have been at peace since 1979, so there is no political obstacle blocking cooperation between their security forces to facilitate the swap.
Shalit is likely to be flown to Israel by military aircraft. The Palestinians will have further to travel, possibly by bus and plane through Egypt and on to a variety of destinations.
Of the 450 Palestinian men and 27 women to be freed in this first phase of the exchange, out of a total of 1,000 men set for release in the coming months, 111 will go home to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, and 130 will go home to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.
Six Arab-Israeli prisoners will be allowed to return to their homes in Israel. The rest -- 203 men and two of the 27 women prisoners --will be exiled to unnamed third countries, probably to join the Palestinian diaspora.
Israel is expected to publish the list of Palestinian names agreed with Hamas on Sunday morning. It will not include a few of the most prominent activists jailed for violent attacks on Israelis, but 310 men serving life terms will be freed, including one man aged 79.
(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Social Stream (What's this?)
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Advertise With Us
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.