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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid