Guarded bus convoys carrying the 477 Arab security prisoners slated for release in exchange for Gilad Shalit were scheduled to leave Ketziot Prison in the Negev early this morning.
Israel Defense Force officers expect that Hamas will also transfer Shalit to the custody of Egyptian representatives in Gaza this morning; the Egyptians will then take him to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing.
Once Israel receives confirmation that Shalit has left Gaza, the initial groups of Arab prisoners - first and foremost the female prisoners - will begin passing through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Egypt and through the Beitunia crossing to the West Bank.
The crossing points in the south have been declared closed military zones, and reinforcements have been deployed to head off any effort to impede the transfer of prisoners, as well as to prevent press photographers from taking pictures of Shalit.
Over the last several days, there has been no fire whatsoever from Gaza into Israel.
The IDF Southern Command has thus concluded that Hamas is doing everything it can to restrain other Palestinian groups from doing anything to impede the prisoner swap.
The Egyptian army is expected to quickly transfer Shalit into Israeli custody at one of the crossings along the Israeli-Egyptian frontier, probably Kerem Shalom.
Among the first Israelis to receive Shalit will be the IDF's chief medical officer and a specialist in post-traumatic stress.
Shalit will then travel by guarded convoy to a nearby military base, where he will undergo an initial medical exam, speak by phone with his parents and don an IDF uniform.
At the same time, the transfer of Arab prisoners through the Kerem Shalom and Beitunia crossings will be concluded.
Those prisoners headed for the Gaza Strip will make the trip via Egypt and enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
The 40 prisoners that are being deported to other countries will be transferred via Cairo, where they will be welcomed by members of Hamas' political bureau.
IDF officers expect Shalit to arrive in Israel in good physical condition.
If that is the case, he will be flown to the Tel Nof air base, where he will be reunited with his parents, brother, sister and grandfather. He will also be welcomed by the prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief of staff.
The Shalit family is expected to return to their home in Mitzpeh Hila in the afternoon.
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