Aviva Shalit, mother of Gilad Shalit who is returning to her arms on the 1,934th day of his imprisonment
Shalit family en route to reunion with Gilad, Oct. 18, 2011
Photo By Yaron Kaminsky
The first stage of a prisoner exchange between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas was completed Tuesday morning, as part of a deal that will see the release of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit after five years and four months in captivity in the Gaza Strip.
The Shalit family leaves their Mitzpe Hila home en route to reunion with Giald, Oct. 18, 2011
Photo By Nir Kafri
All 477 prisoners to go free in the first stage have been transfered to the two locations – one on the Gaza border and another in the West Bank from where they will be handed over for transfer to Egypt and the West Bank. Gilad Shalit’s family was also heading for the Israel Air Force base at Tel Nof in the center of the country, where they will see him for the first time since his capture.
Israel is freeing 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners in return for the soldier, who has been held in Gaza since his abduction in June 2006. The first wave of prisoners to be freed were escorted under heavy security by IDF and Prison Service guards to two locations depending on their ultimate destination.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip preparing for celebrations over the exchange of prisoners for IDF soldier Giald Shalit
As dawn broke, the first convoy of 96 prisoners from Ketziot prison arrived at Ofer jail, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, and a short time later another convoy of 147 prisoners also from Ketziot arrived at the Kerem Shalom crossing, where they were to be delivered to Gaza via Egypt.
Members of the campaign to free Gilad Shalit begin preparing their celebrations
at his hometown of Mitzpe Hila, October 18, 2011
Photo By Gil Eliyahu
The prisoners will be taken off the buses and identified; at Kerem Shalom they will be transfered to Egyptian authorities to be taken to Gaza and at Ofer they were to be handed over to Red Cross officials.
Under the terms of the deal between Israel and Hamas, some of those who are freed are not allowed to return to the Gaza Strip, and some will be deported to other countries.
See Related: Gilad Shalit Agreement Archive