Israel Publishes List of Palestinians to be Freed

Posted October 16th, 2011 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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Israel has published the official list of the 477 Palestinian prisoners to be exchanged Tuesday in the first phase of a deal for the release of an Israeli soldier. Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas gunmen in a 2006 cross-border raid into the Gaza Strip.

Israel published the list Sunday on its prison service website. Israeli citizens have 48 hours to lodge any legal appeals against the deal.

On Saturday, Israeli President Shimon Peres began the process of reviewing hundreds of Palestinian prisoner files.

Under the exchange deal, 1,027 Palestinians will be freed in two stages in return for Shalit, who will be released to Egyptian custody and then handed over to Israel.

The remaining 550 inmates will be freed over a two-month period. Palestinian prisoners include some responsible for deadly attacks on Israelis.

Leaders of Hamas, which rules Gaza, met with Egyptian intelligence officers in Cairo Saturday to discuss the handover. Egypt helped to mediate the deal.

Palestinian groups in Gaza are gearing up for celebrations to welcome prisoners home. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called their release “a great victory.”

Israel has carried out similar prisoner swaps in the past. Opponents call the policy “a grave mistake” and warn such swaps will encourage more kidnappings of Israeli soldiers. Hamas has already said the latest deal is just the first step toward the release of all of the remaining 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails.