Israel Prepares to Free 550 Palestinian Prisoners

Posted December 18th, 2011 at 8:25 am (UTC-5)
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Israel is set to release 550 Palestinian prisoners Sunday in the second stage of a deal with Hamas that brought home one Israeli soldier after five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip. A late evening release operation is planned.

Israel released 477 Palestinians in October in exchange for Israeli army Sergeant Gilad Shalit in the first phase of the deal.

The Israeli Prison Service says unlike the October operation, none of the prisoners in the second group has been convicted of killings. The prison service says nearly all the Palestinians to be freed come from the West Bank.

Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants in a 2006 cross-border raid from Gaza into southern Israel.