Israeli/Palestinian Prisoner Swap

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A historic trade is happening in the Middle East right now. Israeli sergeant Gilad Shalit will be exchanged for the release of 1,000 Palestinians. Shalit has been imprisoned by Hamas for five years when he was captured near the Kerem Shalom crossing. There have been many international campaigns and lobbying from his family to release him since then. Shalit will go across the Egyptian border, be flown to the Tel-Nof military base and then to Mitspe-Hila, Israel. This is only the first stage in a swap deal between Hamas and Israel, as only 477 of the Palestinians will be released on Tuesday.

Paul Danahar, the BBC Middle East bureau chief said in a tweet that, “Israel will not be allowed to identify Shalit who is now in Egypt until 50% of prisoners have left Israel from Kerem Shalom.”

The Palestinian prisoners will return to their homes in Gaza and the West Bank.

Eight out of 10 Israelis favor the deal, according to a poll by the Dahaf Polling Institute for the Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper, but some in Israel are not pleased by the entire circumstance. They are happy to see Shalit back home but not to see “terrorists” set free, especially the families of victims of Palestinian attacks.

This deal could be a turning point in the relationship between Israel and Palestine as an example of conciliation and cooperation and it’s quite interesting to see the live reaction and online reaction as the worldwide community sounds off. Storyful put together a nice compilation that explains what’s going on with the prisoner swap between Israel and Palestine. The BBC also broadcast the event live on its website with Twitter updates.

UPDATE: Breaking, first picture of Gilad Shalit, alive and well