- The prisoner exchange deal for the release of Gilad Shalit is scheduled to take place tomorrow (18/10). Once Shalit is returned to Israel, 477 Palestinian prisoners will be released. 550 additional prisoners will be released within two months.
- Nearly all of the Palestinians being released are serving long sentences for their involvement in terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Between them they are responsible for the murder of 599 Israelis. High Court petitions by bereaved families to delay the deal are, however, unlikely to be successful.
- The complex operation will be jointly carried out by the IDF, Israel Police and Israeli Prisons Service. The release will also be closely coordinated with the International Red Cross, as well as officials in Egypt and Jordan.
What are the main details of the prisoner exchange deal?
- In total, 1027 Palestinians serving prison sentences for terror-related offences will be released in the deal. The full list of the 477 to be released in the first stage of the deal was agreed between Israel and Hamas and was published by the Israeli Prisons Service.
- The first stage will be carried out on Tuesday (18/10) and will involve Shalit’s release and the concurrent release of 477 Palestinians:
- All 27 female prisoners included in the deal will be released in this stage.
- 109 prisoners will be released to their homes in the West Bank. Restrictions regarding movement and residence will be placed on some of the prisoners for several years.
- Of the first group of prisoners to be released, 294 will be released to Gaza, 96 will be returned to their homes in the West Bank, 40 will be deported, 14 will return to East Jerusalem, and six Arab-Israelis will be freed in Israel.
- In the second phase Israel will release 550 prisoners of its choosing. This will take place within two months of the completion of the first stage. They are expected to be individuals responsible for lesser offences and affiliated to Fatah or other factions.
How will Shalit’s release take place?
- Early Tuesday morning, Shalit will be released and handed to representatives of the International Red Cross. Israel will release the first group of 27 female prisoners.
- Shalit will then be transferred from Gaza to the Egyptian controlled Sinai Peninsula through the Rafah Crossing. IDF intelligence officers will meet Shalit on the Egyptian side of the border and accompany him to an IDF base near the Israel-Egypt border. A military medical team will briefly examine Shalit and assess his physical and mental state. He will also be allowed to contact his family by phone for the first time.
- Shalit will then be flown to the Tel Nof air force base in central Israel where he will be united with his family. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz will also greet Shalit upon his arrival.
- The Shalit family will then be flown to a helipad near their home at Mitzpe Hila. Shalit is expected to return to home by mid-afternoon.
- When Shalit has arrived in Israel the remaining Palestinian prisoners will begin to be released. The release will be conducted in coordination with the International Red Cross and buses will transfer the prisoners to border crossings in Gaza and the West Bank. Prisoners who are to be relocated abroad will be first flown to Cairo and then sent to their respective host countries.
What are the legal challenges to the deal?
- The Almagor Terror Victims Association and relatives of Israelis killed in Palestinian attacks petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice, calling for the postponement of the deal to prevent the release of the terrorists responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.
- Similar appeals were made in previous prisoner exchange deals. In all these cases, the court declined appeals for intervention in what it considered a political and security issue.
Who will be among the Palestinians released in the deal?
- Among those included in the deal are many who currently serving long sentences for their terror attacks against Israelis. Some of those to be released include:
- Walid Anajas: convicted and sentenced to 36 life sentences for his involvement in the bombing of the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in 2002. Twelve civilians were killed and 54 wounded in the attack.
- Abd al-Aziz Salaha: serving a life sentence for his part in the 2001 lynching of two IDF soldiers who mistakenly drove into Ramallah. Salahi was photographed shortly after the lynch as he was waving bloodstained hands to a cheering crowd.
- Nasser Yataima: convicted and sentenced to 29 life sentences for planning the 2002 Passover Seder suicide-bomb attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 civilians were killed and 140 were wounded.
- Musab Hashlemon: Sentenced to 17 life sentences for dispatching two suicide bombers to Beersheba. Sixteen civilians were killed when the bombers detonated themselves on two buses in Beersheba in 2004.
- Ibrahim Jundiya: Sentenced to 12 life sentences for dispatching a suicide bomber to a Jerusalem bus in 2002. Eleven passengers were killed in the bombing.
- Fadi Muhammad al-Jabaa: Sentenced to 18 life sentences for plotting the suicide bombing of a Haifa bus in 2003, in which 17 passengers were killed.
- Ahlam Tamimi: A Palestinian female Hamas terrorist convicted of aiding and abetting the suicide bomber who murdered 15 civilians and wounded 140 in the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem. She is serving 16 life sentences. She drove the bomber to the site of the attack.
- Amir Jabar Sharif Sawalma: Sentenced to six life sentences for carrying out a shooting attack at an IDF checkpoint at Mount Gerizim in the West Bank, killing two IDF soldiers and injuring three. He also prepared the explosives belts for two suicide bombings at IDF positions, killing an additional two soldiers and injuring eight. Sawalma also sent a third suicide bomber to a civilian target. The bomber was stopped by a security guard, who was killed in the attack.
BICOM Briefing: The Gilad Shalit deal (initial assessment of the deal and its implications).