Noam Shalit: It's not over until Gilad is home
Noam Shalit says family has not yet received final details of Gilad's handover; Israeli, Hamas officials expected to meet in Cairo on Saturday.
Noam Shalit, the father of captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, said that the Shalit family has yet to receive the final details of the exchange in which Gilad will be returned to Israel.
"It's not over until it is over," Shalit said. "Only when we see Gilad in our hands will we know that all is behind us and that he is home. Right now, we are waiting for him."
Shalit thanked all who have supported the effort to free his son and also acknowledged those who have arrived at the family's residence in the northern town of Mitzpe Hila in recent days.
"The people have given us strength from day one, and today you can see all of us together," Shalit said.
Gilad Shalit been held incommunicado in the Gaza Strip since being captured by Palestinian militants during a cross-border raid on June 25, 2006.
Under an agreement reached between Israel and Hamas that was announced last Tuesday, Israel is to free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.
Israel and Hamas were expected to hold a decisive meeting with Egyptian mediation on Saturday, to decide the final arrangements for the handover of Shalit in return for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quoted a high-ranking Egyptian official as saying.
The Al-Hayat report quoted the Egyptian official as saying that the Saturday meeting was to determine the exact date and time of the exchange, and the location to which Shalit will be transferred. The official said Shalit will not be transferred to Egypt via the Rafah crossing, the newspaper said.
Hamas discovered on Saturday that there are five female Palestinian prisoners and three Israeli Arab female prisoners who are still in legal proceedings and are not on the list of prisoners to be released, despite Hamas' earlier claim that all women prisoners will be freed. Haaretz has learned that activists for prisoners in the Israeli Arab community gave the names of these prisoners to Hamas in a final attempt to bring about their release.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said on Saturday in the Gaza Strip that Shalit will not be released until confirmation that released Palestinian have arrived in Gaza and the West Bank.