News24

Israel set to complete swap for Schalit

2011-12-18 17:52

Jerusalem - Israel was wrapping up preparations to release 550 Palestinian prisoners late on Sunday, in the second and final phase of a swap with Hamas militants that brought home an Israeli soldier after five years in captivity.

Under the Egyptian-brokered deal, Israel has agreed to exchange a total of 1 027 prisoners for Sergeant Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in June 2006.

Shalit returned home in October when Israel freed the first batch of 477 prisoners. Sunday's release will complete the swap.

Sunday's release, set to take place late at night, was not infused with the same drama as the first phase since the most significant players in the trade have already been released.

The October 18 return of Shalit, who appeared pale and thin but otherwise healthy, was the first public sighting of him since his capture, and the plight of the young man had captured Israel's attention for years.