A history of Israel's prisoner swaps

Over the past three decades, Israel has agreed to release almost eight thousand detainees in exchange for captured soldiers and citizens.

October 27, 2011 18:56
2 minute read.
Palestinian prisoners enter Gaza from Egypt

Palestinian prisoners enter Gaza 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel released 25 jailed Egyptians and Egypt freed dual American-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel held on suspicion of spying in a prisoner exchange on Thursday.

Here are details of previous swaps of prisoners and the bodies of war dead between Israel and the Arabs since 1983:

1983 -
Israel frees 4,600 Arab detainees in return for six Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon.

June 1984 - Israel swaps 291 Syrians captured in battle and the remains of 72 Syrians for six Israelis and five bodies, only two of which are positively identified as Israelis. Israel also frees 20 Arab civilians held for spying and security offenses.

May 1985 - Israel releases 1,150 Arab prisoners in exchange for three IDF soldiers held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. The deal took almost nine months to negotiate.

June-July 1985 - Israel frees 331 Lebanese Shi'ite detainees. Shi'ite leaders say their freedom was guaranteed in exchange for the return of 39 foreign passengers hijacked in an American TWA airliner to Beirut. Israel denies a connection.

July 1996 - Hezbollah and Israel carry out a German-brokered swap when the bodies of 123 terrorists are returned to Lebanon in exchange for the remains of two IDF soldiers.

Hezbollah also frees 17 fighters of the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) militia, which in turn frees 45 Lebanese captives.

January 2004 - Israel releases 436 Palestinian and other Arab prisoners in a deal with Hezbollah for the return of Elhanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli businessman, and three dead IDF soldiers abducted on a border patrol in 2000.

July 2008 - In return for releasing five men, Israel recovered from Hezbollah the bodies of two of its soldiers, captured in The Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Oct. 2011 - Israel agreed a deal with Hamas that 1,027 prisoners would be freed in exchange for Israeli soldier and tank crewman, Gilad Schalit, who had been held since 2006.

In a two-stage deal, 477 prisoners were freed, along with Schalit on Oct 18. In the second phase, the remaining 550 prisoners will be freed over the coming months.

Some 5,000 Palestinians remain behind bars in Israel, most convicted of violent acts over years of armed conflict.

Oct. 2011 - Israel swaps 25 jailed Egyptians for Ilan Grapel, who was detained in Egypt in June on accusations he was out to recruit agents and monitor events in the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak, an ally of Israel and the United States. Israel denied the allegations.

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