GAZA/JERUSALEM, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Both the Islamic Hamas Movement and
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Tuesday night the
prisoner swap deal under which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit held captive
in Gaza would be freed in exchange for the release of 1,000
Palestinians jailed in Israel.
Izzeldein al-Qassam Brigades,
Hamas' armed wing in the Gaza Strip, said on its website that "an
honorable deal had been reached and will be implemented within the
coming few days."
"The deal was reached in accordance to criteria
that had been agreed upon for the first time in the history of prisoner
swap deals," said the armed group.
Hamas militants and two other
minor militant groups, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Army
of Islam, abducted the 22-year-old Shalit in a cross-border raid on an
Israeli army base southeast of the Gaza Strip in June 2006.
captors demanded the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli
jails, including 450 prisoners who have spent more than 25 years behind
the bars in Israeli jails. Germany and Egypt have been mediating a deal
between Hamas and Israel.
Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas'
politburo in Damascus, is expected to give a speech Tuesday night on the
prisoner swap deal, well-informed Hamas sources said.
Dubai-based Al Arabiya television channel reported on Tuesday night that
an agreement, mediated by Egypt, has been reached between Hamas and
Israel on releasing Shalit.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas
leader currently in Cairo, told Xinhua by phone that he doesn't want to
comment on media reports, saying "In case there is an agreement, Hamas
will certainly declare it."
Meanwhile, a source close to the
Israeli government confirmed that the Israeli cabinet held a meeting
last night till 5 a.m. ( 0300 GMT) discussing the prisoner swap deal.
"Since Shalit has not arrived here, Israel can not say the deal has been done," the source added.
Prime Minister Netanyahu held an urgent cabinet session Tuesday
evening, during which he explained to cabinet members details of the
Netanyahu told reporters after the meeting that he has
presented the deal to his cabinet and most of his cabinet members have
voiced support for it.
He said his cabinet is still discussing the deal and Gilad Shalit will be "coming home" in a few days.
Netanyahu said he would stand true to his promise to bring Schalit home to his parents and grandparents.
|Liveleak on Facebook|