Prison swap deal will see Shalit freed

2011-10-11 21:16

kalahari.com

  • Palestine
    The traumas and tragedies of historic Palestine are impacting every twist and turn in the countdown... Now R209.00
    buy now

Jerusalem - Israeli and Hamas have reached a deal to free a captured Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, officials from both sides said on Tuesday, capping five years of painful negotiations that have repeatedly collapsed in finger pointing and violence.

The deal would bring home Sergeant Gilad Shalit, who was captured in a cross-border raid in June 2006 by Palestinian militants who burrowed into Israel and dragged him into Gaza. Little has been known about his fate since then.

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, convened an urgent meeting on Tuesday night with his cabinet to approve the deal, said an Israeli official, who spoke on condition pending a formal announcement. Hamas officials and media outlets also confirmed the deal.

The agreement would exchange Shalit, 25, for around 1 000 Palestinian prisoners. Israel had previously baulked at Hamas' demands because some of the prisoners are serving lengthy sentences for deadly attacks on Israelis.

Other sticking points in the past have been whether prisoners would be allowed to return home to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or be sent into exile instead. Exact details of the deal were not immediately available.

A Hamas delegation led by a top Hamas official, Mahmoud Zahar, arrived in Cairo on Monday night from the group's headquarters in Syria. The deal would be implemented within days, said Ezzat Rishq, a Hamas official in the delegation.

Shalit's plight has captured the attention of Israel, where military service is mandatory for Jewish citizens, and people identify with the Shalit family's pain.

Hamas has allowed no access to Shalit, and released only a brief audio recording and a videotaped statement early in his five years in captivity.

The soldier's father, Noam, has become a well-known public figure through a a campaign to win his son's freedom, leading demonstrations and sleeping in a tent outside Netanyahu's residence.

1 934 days

Dozens of Israelis converged on the tent late on Tuesday to offer support to the family. The tiny structure is decorated with pictures of Shalit, as well as a large sign with the number 1 934, the number of days he has been in captivity.

Shalit's parents sat in the tent, smiling as people flooded to the area and cars honked horns in excitement.

Likewise, the plight of Palestinian prisoners is deeply emotional among Palestinians. Virtually every Palestinian has a relative who has served time in an Israeli prison, and Palestinians routinely hold large demonstrations where they hold up posters of their imprisoned loved ones.

Announcement of the deal coincided with a hunger strike launched by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners seeking better conditions.

The prisoners had been demanding the restoration of key privileges, such as having Arabic TV channels and being allowed to take university course, which have been systematically stripped since Shalit's capture.

It was unknown whether the leader of the hunger strike, Ahmed Saadat, or the most prominent prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, would be included in the deal.

Saadat was convicted of planning the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister in 2001. Barghouti was the top local commander of Fatah, the movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, when he was arrested in 2002 and convicted of a role in deadly attacks against Israelis. He is serving multiple life terms.

Neither Saadat nor Barghouti belongs to Hamas, but Hamas is eager to portray itself as representing all Palestinians. The Islamic militant group is in a bitter rivalry with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is enjoying a burst of popularity after defying Israel and the US and seeking membership for the Palestinians at the UN.

Salah Bardawil, a top Hamas official in Gaza, said the revolution in neighbouring Egypt had also helped fuel a deal. He said the new regime "undertook tireless efforts" to broker an agreement.

Timing forced on all

"Israel began to feel trust in the Egyptian side... and we put all our trust in the new Egyptian leadership as a trusted mediator," he said. "The changes in the region have forced the timing on all of us."

The Palestinians have been divided between rival governments, Abbas' Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas' regime in Gaza, since Hamas overran the coastal strip in 2007.

The exchange would include Amina Mona, a young woman who lured a lovestruck Israeli teenage boy to a Palestinian city over the internet, only to have him killed by waiting militants, according to Mohammed al-Barem, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, one of the groups that captured Shalit.

He gave no other names, but said it included 300 prisoners serving life sentences.

Israeli groups representing the families of people killed by Palestinian militants have objected to a prisoner swap, saying it would be too painful to allow their children's murderers to go free.

Netanyahu is eager for a domestic boost. The Israeli leader has faced growing criticism for a deadlock in peace efforts with the Palestinians, as well as a series of domestic protests over the country's steep cost of living.

Bringing Shalit home is sure to make Netanyahu a hero.

German and Egyptian mediators tried to broker deals between Israel and Hamas over the past five years. Those talks have repeatedly broke down, and Israel has carried out a number of military strikes and also imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, partly to pressure Hamas over the case of the soldier.

- AP

Read more on:    gilad shalit  |  palestine  |  israel  |  middle east peace
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Cape Town - 16:15 PM
    Road name: Wet Weather
    RAIN across the greater Cape Town area - drive with care and use headlights - Allow Extra Tavel Time
  • Friday Kuils River - 09:28 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Durbanville

Houses R 2 195 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 4 750 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia Lumia 800

The stunningly social Nokia Lumia 800 features head-turning design, ...

From R2775.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The day may have a fluctuating sensitive energy to begin with, but later when the Moon moves into dramatic and creative Leo you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.