It looks like Gilad Shalit is coming home after 5 years of captivity at the hands of Hamas.

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According to Haaretz He is being traded for just over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, who are going to be released in two waves, the first wave of 450 is broken down as follows:


110 prisoners will be released to their homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, out of whom 55 are Hamas men, with the rest belonging to Fatah and the other Palestinian groups. According to the deal, 131 Gaza residents will be released back to the coastal Strip, many of whom are reportedly top Hamas operatives. Another 203 prisoners will be expelled from the West Bank, 40 of whom will be deported overseas and the rest to Gaza.

I have been pretty critical of Noam Shalit and the family''s campaign to have their son freed in this blog previously. Essentially they have run a slick campaign with one goal only and they have achieved their aim, their son is coming home.

Whether this is a good deal or a bad deal is impossible to say. There is no absolute truth in this grey area, some people will think it good others bad and the truth is that we will see the extent to which these soon to be released prisoners simply pick up where they left off.

One thing that should be remembered is that in the wake of Shalit''s kidnapping a large number of Hamas politicians were arrested and have been held ever since as bargaining chips, that would be a proportion of the prisoners being released now.

For me the big question is, why now? He''s been wasting away in a dungeon somewhere, probably in Gaza for years and now the government decide to give up 1,000 prisoners for him. This deal has been on the table and rejected for years. As early as August 2006 there was a deal proposed for the release of Gilad in exchange for 700 terrorists again reported in Haaretz. The head of the Shin Bet made cryptic references to the Syria situation as a factor for effecting his release now. I think the answer lies closer to home.

There has been an ongoing industrial dispute between the Ministry of Health and doctors which has resulted in several mass walk outs by hospital staff only for them to be forced by judicial decree to go back to work yesterday was the 3rd time they were forced at the threat of arrest to return to work. Yesterday lecturers at universities across the country went on strike themselves. The reports released by the Trajenberg committee have appeased no one in the social justice protest movement and there is a planned return to the streets in November over the government''s failure to act on any of the demands made. Netanyahu''s government is in a mess when it comes to the secular grassroots Israelis and the release of Gilad Shalit has handily distracted everyone from the problems being faced here in Israel on the ground.

I don''t know how long this story will continue to gain traction but with prisoner releases coming in two waves and Gilad''s release not coming for several days it appears as though Bibi has bought himself more than a little time at the expense of the no longer striking doctors.
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