Hamas Delegation Arrives in Egypt to Finalize Prisoner Swap With Israel

Delegation headed by Khaled Meshaal, chief of Hamas' political bureau, who says first stage of deal would take place within one week.

A delegation from the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, led by Khaled Meshaal, the chief of its political bureau, arrived in Cairo Wednesday evening to finalize a 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.

Khaled Meshal

On Tuesday, Meshal praised Palestinian “steadfastness” against the “Israeli occupier” would not reveal the exact details of the deal, but stated that the “first stage” would take place within one week.

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.

Also on Wednesday, Gilad's parents Noam and Aviva Shalit arrived 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."