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IPS: Transfer of all 477 Palestinian prisoners complete
By YAAKOV LAPPIN AND REUTERS
18/10/2011
Officials complete transfer of all prisoners to Egypt, West Bank after Schalit confirmed in good health in Israeli hands.
 
Israel completed the transfer of all 477 prisoners being released as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange to Egypt and the West Bank on Tuesday after confirming that Schalit is in good health and had entered Israel.

Some 400 wardens accompanied 10 convoys during the operation. No unusual incidents were recorded.

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The majority of prisoners were being transferred to Gaza from Egypt, while 40 prisoners were scheduled to be deported to foreign capitals

Witnesses reported seeing a first batch of prisoners entering Gaza from Egypt.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, Israel transferred hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in heavily guarded convoys setting in motion the phased prisoner exchange.



The first convoy of prisoners arrived at Kerem Shalom to be transferred to Egypt where authorities there monitored their arrival in Gaza. All inmates that were scheduled to be released in the West Bank arrived at the Ofer Prison near Ramallah.

In the deal reached between Israel and Hamas, Schalit was freed after five years of captivity in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Its implementation took several hours.

The first vehicles that left a jail in central Israel around 2:30 a.m. were carrying female prisoners, most to be freed in the West Bank. They were accompanied by security personnel from Egypt, who mediated the swap deal, an official said.

All border crossings were declared  closed military zones in preparation for the transaction.

Throughout Monday night, the Prisons Service finalized preparations to bus the prisoners in heavily-guarded convoys to release points in Rafah and the West Bank. Over 1,000 police were monitoring the transaction.

After receiving the military’s green light, the convoys headed out early on Tuesday under guard by the Prison Service’s Nachson Unit.

Twenty-seven female prisoners held in the Sharon prison were sent to the Ofer prison, from where they will be released to the West Bank.

Ninety-six male prisoners being held in the Ketziot facility in the South were bused to the Ofer prison in the West Bank. Six male prisoners were released to their homes in Israel. Three were released from the Megido prison, two from the Ayalon prison, and one from the Katzrin jail in the Golan.

The remainder of the male and female prisoners boarded a southbound bus convoy to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, where they were transferred to Egyptian custody.

A further 550 Palestinian prisoners of Israel's choice will be released in two months' time to complete the deal.

Click for full JPost coverage on Gilad Schalit
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