Freed Palestinians arrive in Turkey

2011-10-19 08:39

Gilad Shalit reunites with his family

2011-10-19 08:55

After meeting the officials Gilad Shalit was finally reunited with his family, for the first time after more than five years in captivity.WATCH

Ankara - Eleven Palestinians made V-for-victory signs as they arrived in Turkey early on Wednesday as part of the thousand-for-one prisoner exchange, television pictures showed.

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and hundreds of Palestinians crossed Israel's borders in opposite directions on Tuesday under the swap, one of the biggest ever such exchanges between the two sides.

A private plane flew the 10 men and one woman from Cairo to the Turkish capital Ankara, where they were met at Esenboga Airport by the Palestinian ambassador to Ankara Nabil Maarouf and Turkish foreign ministry officials.

"We are grateful to the Turkish government for its support in the process of releasing the Palestinians and bringing them to Turkey," state-run Anatolian news agency quoted Maarouf as telling reporters at the airport.

"God willing we will continue to seek Turkey's support until Palestine attains freedom," he added.

Media reports said the 11 were spending the night in Ankara but it was not disclosed where for security reasons.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had announced on Tuesday that about 10 Palestinians would come to Turkey. At least 40 of the Palestinians were sent to Turkey, Syria and Qatar.

Turkey's once-close ties with fellow regional power Israel have deteriorated sharply since Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turks in May 2010 in a raid on a ship carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and halted defence trade after the Jewish state confirmed last month it would not apologise for the raid.

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