Israel to free 20 prisoners for proof Shalit alive
Hamas to film video proving Israeli soldier is alive
Israel will free 20 Palestinian women prisoners in exchange for a video of soldier Gilad Shalit, proving he is still alive after he was captured by Gaza fighters in June 2006, Israeli and Palestinian sources said on Wednesday.
"The Israeli security cabinet decided to authorize the release of 20 Palestinian women detainees and prisoners," the Israeli prime minister's office said in a statement.
"Israel will receive updated and clear proof on the health and condition of Gilad Shalit. This proof of life will be handed to Israel by the (Egyptian) mediators in the form of a videotape that has recently been filmed."
The deal had been proposed by Egyptians and Germans mediating between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza, senior officials said.
The armed wing of Hamas confirmed the deal, saying "the Palestinian prisoners will be released within days."
A source close to the negotiations said he expected the women prisoners and the information on Shalit to be exchanged on Friday. Israel said it would publish a list of the women to be freed, to allow objections to their release by its citizens.
Israel will receive updated and clear proof on the health and condition of Gilad Shalit. This proof of life will be handed to Israel by the mediators in the form of a videotape that has recently been filmed
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"This is a humanitarian gesture," said an Egyptian source, who has been close to Cairo's mediation efforts that have been going on between Gaza's rulers and Israel for many months.
A spokesman for Hamas's armed wing, Abu Ubeida, told a news conference in Gaza: "This is a success for the Egyptian and German mediators."
He said four of the women to be released were members of Hamas, while 5 were members of the rival Fatah movement. A further 3 were members of Islamic Jihad and the others were from other Palestinian groups.
Shalit, a young conscript who was a corporal at the time, was seized by fighters from Hamas and allied groups during a raid on an Israeli border base in 2006.
He has not been visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Israel holds more than 10,000 Palestinians in its jails. Hamas is negotiating for the release of hundreds of its members.