Palestinians Prepare For Prisoner Swap

Posted October 15th, 2011 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Leaders of the Palestinian group Hamas met with Egyptian intelligence officers on Saturday to work out details of the planned handover of a captured Israeli soldier.

The meeting took place in Cairo ahead of Tuesday's expected release of Gilad Shalit, a soldier who has been held captive by Hamas militants since 2006. He is to be freed under an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that calls for the release of 1,027 Palestinian inmates.

Egypt is helping to mediate the deal. The initial plan is for the Palestinians to transfer Shalit to Egyptian custody on Tuesday. Cairo would then hand him over to Israeli authorities.

At the same time, Israel would free about 477 Palestinian prisoners. The remaining inmates would be freed over a two-month period.

Palestinian groups in Hamas-ruled Gaza are planning celebrations to mark the prisoner release. However, the mood is more subdued in Israel. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the release of the Palestinian prisoners creates security risks but Israel has a national duty to bring its soldiers home.

On Friday, Israeli authorities detained a man who defaced a memorial to former Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin to protest the release of a Palestinian prisoner.

Authorities say the man's parents and at least three of his siblings were among 15 people killed in a 2001 suicide bombing in Jerusalem. At least one Palestinian prisoner convicted in the attack is scheduled to be freed.