The arrangements to transfer abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas hands to Israeli authorities through Egypt have been finalized, an Israeli defense official said on Sunday.
Special Israeli envoy David Meidan returned from Cairo on Sunday morning after meeting with senior Egyptian intelligence officials to tie up the loose ends still remaining in the deal, which will see Shalit released after five years in Hamas captivity, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Meidan updated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately upon his return. Netanyahu told the envoy that the mission would be considered complete only once Shalit was back with his family, alive and well.
Shalit is expected home on Tuesday and after initial medical check-ups will be welcomed in a brief and formal IDF ceremony, at which Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will speak. The Shalit family will return to their home in Mitzpeh Hila following the ceremony.
Israel early Sunday began transferring Palestinian prisoners to jails in the south and center of the country to prepare for the high-profile swap. 477 prisoners have already been transferred from 16 different detention facilities to Ketziot prison, near the border with Egypt.
The female prisoners set to be released were transferred from Damon prison in the north to Sharon prison. In order to avoid unnecessary attention, the prisoners were transported in several vehicles.
The High Court of Justice will debate at noon on Monday a number of petitions against the deal, submitted by bereaved families, who object to the release of the terrorists involved in the murder of their loved ones.
Earlier Sunday, just hours after the official list of prisoners set for release was published, two private petitions were submitted to the High Court, geared at thwarting the Shalit deal.
The first was submitted by Meir Schijveschuurder, the brother of Shvuel Schijveschuurder, who was caught defacing the Yitzhak Rabin memorial in Tel Aviv as a way to protest the upcoming deal.
The Schijveschuurder's petition was against the terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, who was convicted of driving the suicide bomber who detonated in Jerusalem's "Sbarro" restrautant, killing five Schijveschuurder family members, as well as ten other Israelis. Tamimi was sentenced to 15 life sentences.
In his petition, Meir Schijveschuurder wrote that "the freeing of murderers and terrorists is a cynical attack against the soft belly of the petitioners and of the bereaved families."
"There is no clear criterion for the release, but just a list out of nowhere. Until such a criterion is set, every release serves as a clear and certain opening to kidnappings and murders to come," the Schijveschuurder petition said.
The second petition was from Jerusalem resident Ronit Tamari, who appealed the court also in the name of her son, Liran. The two stated that there were not members of a bereaved family, but were "concerned citizens."
According to Tamari, "the release of terrorists should not be allowed, terrorists who, all together, have been sentenced to hundreds of life sentences," adding that the Shalit deal would "bring Israel to its knees in front of the terror organizations."
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