Shalit release, prisoner exchange begins
The main item of Israel-related coverage in the UK media today is the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, as part of a prisoner exchange. Several news sources note the rejection by the Israeli High Court of last minute objections to the deal, and its expected implementation today. BBC Online has an analysis looking into why Israel has accepted a number of apparently lopsided deals in order to secure the release of IDF personnel in captivity. In other items, the Daily Telegraph notes that Quartet representatives are set to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials separately in Jerusalem later this month. The paper also notes a call by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for an end to the ongoing killing of civilians in Syria. The Independent reports on a meeting between a number of aid workers and Asma Assad, wife of the Syrian dictator, in which she appeared indifferent regarding the killing of civilians in Syria. The Times has a piece noting claims that Israeli officials shared sensitive information with Adam Werritty, associate of former UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox, because they thought that he was a British defence official. The Daily Mirror and the Evening Standard note claims that Werritty had links to the Mossad. Reuters notes the ongoing killing of civilians in Syria by the army. The Times reports on Arab League pressure on Damascus to begin reforms. The Guardian has a piece which notes economic protests in Israel.
The print editions of all Israeli papers focus intensively on the scheduled release today of Gilad Shalit.
In the Israeli media, all papers have details and discussion of the deal to release Gilad Shalit, scheduled to be implemented today. Haaretz quotes Hamas Gaza foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar, who claimed that Israel promised to ease the blockade on Gaza as part of the deal. The paper also quotes Hassan Youssef, a senior Hamas official, who demanded that Israel release more Palestinians to avoid future kidnappings. All papers note the rejection by the Israeli High Court of last minute petitions against the deal. Ynetnews notes international media interest in the deal, and a high IDF alert today to ensure its peaceful implementation.