Gilad Shalit to Be Returned to Israel Within a Week

Kidnapped IDF soldier to be transferred to Egypt through Rafah crossing, then to Israel, on Tuesday or Wednesday; Hamas delegation arrives in Cairo to finalize deal.

Kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit will be returned to Israel on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, Israeli authorities reported. Shalit is expected to be transferred to the Sinai Peninsula through Rafah crossing, then to Israel. According to reports, Israel Defense Forces intend to allow Shalit to be reunited with his family as soon as possible.

Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, arrived Wednesday evening in their home in Mitzpe Hila in northern Israel, after leaving the protest site they had been encamped at in Jerusalem. They were welcomed by dozens activists and neighbors.


"I am glad to return home and I'm waiting for Gilad," said his father Noam. "I want to see him coming down the stairs of the house to come full circle. It's been a long road. It's time for Gilad to come home."

Also on Wednesday, a delegation from the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, led by Khaled Meshaal, the chief of its political bureau, arrived in Cairo evening to finalize the prisoners swap deal with Israel.

Under the agreement, announced Tuesday, Israel is to free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for its soldier, Gilad Shalit, held captive in Gaza for the past five years.

According to Meshal, 450 prisoners would be released during the first phase, while another 550 prisoners would be released in the second phase, set to take place in two months. Meshal also stated that priority has been given to prisoners who have been in Israeli prisons for tens of years.

Meshal further stated that 27 female Palestinian prisoners would also be released as part of the deal.