Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu just announced that Gilad Shalit will be returning home to Israel in the coming days. Only a few hours ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of the Cabinet to approve the prisoner exchange, which was mediated by the Egyptian Government. The exact terms of the agreement are not public, but the deal includes hundreds of Hamas prisoners who were serving life sentences.
Gilad Shalit, then 19, was captured in a cross-border action near Gaza by Hamas in June 2006. Since not even the Red Cross was given access to Shalit, the most recent acknowledgement of his condition was two years ago, when Israel released 20 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a video to prove he was alive.
After five years of waiting, and countless hours and months of negotiations, Netanyahu points out that given the region’s uncertainty, “This is a window of opportunity that might have been missed.”