News / Middle East

Israeli Soldier, 477 Palestinians Freed in Prisoner Swap

Multimedia

Audio
Scott Bobb

An Israeli soldier held more than five years by Palestinian captors has returned home, and Israel has freed more than 400 Palestinians, in one of the largest prisoner swaps between the two sides.

Palestinian Prisoners Expected To Be Freed

  • Here is a list of some key Palestinian inmates slated to be freed in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit:
  • Nael Barghouthi: Believed to be the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner. He received a life sentence in 1978 for his role in the murder of an Israeli during a Palestinian commando operation. He is sometimes referred to as the "dean" of Palestinian prisoners because of the length of time he has spent behind bars.
  • Sami Younis: Believed to be the oldest Palestinian prisoner, some reports say he is 78. He was detained by Israeli forces in 1983. He received a life sentence on charges that include participating in the killing of an Israeli soldier.
  • Yehya al-Sinwar: A Hamas leader who founded the group's security structure in Gaza. Convicted in the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli soldier. He is the brother of a Hamas member who was involved in the 2006 raid that resulted in the capture of Shalit.
  • Abdel Hadi Ghanem: An Islamic Jihad member who was convicted of hijacking an Israeli bus in 1989 and killing 16 passengers.
  • Mohammed al-Sharatha: Leader of a Hamas cell that kidnapped and killed two Israeli soldiers in 1989. Sentenced to three life terms.

  • Several high-profile Palestinian prisoners are not on the exchange list. They include:
  • Marwan Barghouti: Considered a possible successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Arrested in 2002, Barghouti is serving multiple life terms for his role in deadly attacks against Israelis.
  • Ahmed Saadat: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader was convicted of planning the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister in 2001.

Israeli army Sergeant Gilad Shalit returned to his family in Israel amid an outpouring of national joy, as 477 Palestinian prisoners, 27 of them women, regained their freedom amid celebrations across the Palestinian territories.

The spokesman for the Israeli military General Yoav Mordechai, announced Shalit's release shortly after midday on Tuesday.  He said Gilad Shalit has returned home, back from the military operation he left for on June 25, 2006.

That is the day Shalit was captured by forces of the Hamas Palestinian group during a clash in southern Israel.  

In subsequent years, there were intensive diplomatic efforts to gain the soldier's release, along with flare-ups of fighting that inflicted considerable damage on Palestinian installations in Hamas-ruled Gaza.   

Hamas transferred Shalit to Egypt Tuesday morning under a deal mediated by the Egyptian government.  Egyptian authorities quickly handed him over to the Israelis.

Shalit told Egypt's Nile TV that he had been informed of his impending release about one week ago.

He says he missed his family and missed talking to people. He says he was afraid he would be a prisoner for years to come.

In the Palestinian territories, the mood was jubilant as hundreds of prisoners, including some who had been jailed by Israel for decades, regained their freedom in the swap and rejoined their families.

But some released Palestinians were not able to go home. Dozens who were from the West Bank were instead deported to Gaza or elsewhere.  One of them, Halal Jarad, told al-Jazeera TV he is sad he will not see his family but that he would seek to live a normal life.

"I plan to open a house and marry. And I look for peace. It's very difficult in the war. It's very ugly from all the conditions," said Jarad.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the prisoner release.

Abbas said there is an agreement with the Israeli government for the release of another larger group of Palestinians soon.  "We are asking the Israelis to respect their promises," said Abbas.

Under the deal, Israel is to release an additional 550 Palestinian prisoners within two months.  An estimated 6,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails. Hamas leaders have vowed to see them all released.

The deal was controversial. Families of some of the Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks were angry to see the attackers go free. Other Israelis feared the prisoner release would lead to an increase in violence.

Palestinians were upset that some of their most prominent figures in Israeli custody were excluded from the deal.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid