Gilad Shilat Deal Reached; Israel Prepares to release Palestinian Prisoners

Oct 12, 2011, 10:15 by R.E. Christian

Israel began preparations Wednesday to exchange more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shilat, the Prison Service said.

Senior officials from the service met with the public security chief and the head of police to discuss how the exchange would occur, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Shalit, now a staff sergeant, was 19 years old when he was kidnapped by Hamas and other Palestinian militants in a cross border raid in June 2006 and taken to Gaza.

Chief Yoram Cohen of the Israel Security Agency said the deal for the return of Shalit after five years in captivity was the best one that Israel could secure.

It was announced on television by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"If there had been a better deal or a viable military option we would have chosen it," Cohen said, adding that statistics show that 60 percent of those released in prisoner swaps return to terrorist activity.

Under the deal, expected to take place next week, Israel will initially release 450 Palestinian prisoners.

Shalit will be sent to Israel and another 577 prisoners, including women and minors, will be released.

Source: UPI