5 Years Later, Gilad Shalit Free

477 Palestinian prisoners released as part of deal
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2011 2:42 AM CDT
Updated Oct 18, 2011 7:10 AM CDT
Gilad Shalit Freed as Hamas Prisoner Exchange Begins
A convoy carries Palestinians prisoners who are to be exchanged for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

(Newser) – After more than five years as a Hamas captive in Gaza, soldier Gilad Shalit is back in Israel, a move that triggered the release of 477 Palestinian prisoners, the first wave of a total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners being freed in exchange for the 25-year-old soldier, the Washington Post reports. Shalit was handed over to Egyptian authorities as part of the Egypt-brokered prisoner exchange, then taken across the border and ultimately reunited with his family. Media reports mention that he is healthy, though appears incredibly thin, frail, and even dazed.

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Israel then freed the first batch of prisoners, busing 350 of them across the border to Gaza, where tens of thousands of Palestinians celebrated their return. The rest were sent to the West Bank, reports the AP, where they were addressed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said Israel would release even more prisoners after the second group is released in two months. It was the first mention of such a release. In Israel, Shalit met with a quieter return; the Post notes that his mother prepared his favorite meal: pasta and soup. (Read more Hamas stories.)

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