10/18/2011, 00.00
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Shalit is freed: delivered to the Egyptians. Release of Palestinians begins

by Joshua Lapide
The young Israeli soldier captured in June 2006 was released this morning in Gaza, and is travelling to Israel. Meanwhile, the first 477 Palestinian prisoners are at checkpoints, where hundreds of relatives await them. Controversy in Israel, Palestinian concerns mixed with the joy over deal.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Gilad Shalit is free. Hamas has handed him over to the Egyptians in Rafah in Gaza this morning. Meanwhile the 477 prisoners who formed the first contingent of the agreement have been released from Israeli prisons came. A total of 1027 prisoners will be released from Israeli jails. Gilad Shalit is due to travel to the military base in Tel Nof in central Israel, where his parents, Noam and Aviva, await him. The reaction of Gilad's grandfather, Zvi Schalit, is indicative of the mood of many: "In the midst of all this excitement I try to keep in mind all the time that we live in the Middle East. Hence, only once I see Gilad with my own eyes I would be able to breathe a sigh of relief ".

Contradictory reports and uncertainty have marked the latter stages of the story of the young Israeli soldier captured in June 2006 by a Palestinian commando near the Gaza border. The release of Shalit was announced and then denied on several occasions. The first convoy of Palestinian prisoners is waiting outside the military checkpoints Beituniya order to enter the territory controlled by the Palestinians, as witnesses said. Hundreds of relatives of Palestinian prisoners are awaiting their arrival at the Beituniya checkpoint, waving Palestinian flags and photos of the family prisoners.

The agreement between Netanhyau and Hamas has created controversy and questions in both Israeli and Palestinian spheres. Samir Qumsieh, director of the Catholic Al Mahed Nativity TV, in Bethlehem, outlines some of these aspects to AsiaNews. "The Palestinians are happy for any action that leads to the release of their prisoners, thousands of whom are still in prisons Israel. But the timing of the agreement raises questions, for a long time it seemed that nothing was moving, then suddenly it was all over. And also important leaders like Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Saadat and Abdullah Barghouti were excluded, in spite of several assurances that they would be included in the agreement. Of course Hamas will try to benefit from this agreement and to improve its image damaged when it opposed the request for approval submitted to the UN by President Abbas, a gesture that was approved by a majority of Palestinians. "

In Israel, the joy is mixed with controversy. Yehuda Ben Meir, a well-known commentator in Haaretz observes that joy is mixed with great sadness, "the difficult feelings and sadness for the suffering of thousands of Israelis whose loved ones were brutally killed by these terrorists. Today they feel that justice has been violated. " According to Giora Inbar, a former brigadier general during the War in Lebanon "there are no winners and no losers here. Both sides reached an agreement in a state of exhaustion, realizing that they can no longer pull the rope without bringing a disaster upon their people". According to the commentator, is now up to the Israeli government to "break the diplomatic stalemate and creating a (crucial, even if painful) agreement between us and our neighbors".

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See also
Controversy continues in Israel as Gilad Shalit and 477 Palestinian prisoners are free tomorrow
Hamas, Israel swap Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinians
Concerns and hopes in Arab and Israeli press over Shalit swap
Israel reopens Gaza crossings but gives green light to new homes in East Jerusalem
Israel frees 26 Palestinian prisoners, but legalizes 20 settlements in the West Bank


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