'Gantz confirms: Schalit to return to Israel October 18'
IDF chief visits kidnapped soldier's parents in Mitzpe Hila, informing them they will meet their son at the Tel Nof Air Force Base in central Israel, to which he will be flown from Egypt, Channel 2 reports.
By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
October 13, 2011 21:46
3 minute read.
Gantz official looking serious 311.
(photo credit: IDF spokesperson unit)
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz met with
Noam and Aviv Schalit on Thursday evening, confirming that their son
Gilad Schalit would be returning to Israel on Tuesday, Channel 2
reported.The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has
facilitated other prisoner swaps, has offered its services and is
discussing this with Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
Gantz told the Schalits at their home in Mitzpe Hila
that on Tuesday, Gilad would be flown from a military base in Egypt to
the Tel Nof Air Force Base near Rehovot. According to the report, Noam
and Aviva Schalit will have their first meeting with Gilad at Tel Nof.
Schalits arrive home in Mitzpe Hila after meeting Peres
Prison Service preparing release of Palestinian prisoners
The chief of staff did not disclose the expected time of Schalit's arrival, Channel 2 reported.
negotiator David Meidan will head to Cairo in the coming days to
conclude the details of the deal struck between Israel and Hamas to
bring the kidnapped soldier back to Israel.
Schalit will be freed in exchange for the release of
hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The swap is
expected to take place on Egyptian territory at locations somewhere in
the Sinai Desert, as yet undisclosed.
"We are talking to both sides about our offer. We have offered our
services as a neutral intermediary to both sides," ICRC spokesman Marcal
Izard told Reuters in Geneva.
The handover will begin with carefully timed, simultaneous moves
somewhere in Egypt. But Schalit and the men and women for whom he is
being traded are not likely to even come close to seeing each other.
The deal, over three years in the making and a casualty of at least two
breakdowns, was finally brokered last week with Egyptian mediation
between Israel and Hamas.
It was signed and announced by both on Tuesday evening.
Schalit is 25 and has been the focus of an emotional campaign since soon
after his capture in June 2006. He was last seen, looking pale and
thin, in a 2009 video shot by his captors, and he is sure to get a
hero's welcome in Israel.
The Palestinian side, too, is preparing to celebrate the release of 450
men and 27 women, including prison veterans held in Israeli jails for 30
Some will be greeted at home. Others will be exiled to third countries, as yet unnamed, without stopping on Palestinian soil.
It is expected that Schalit will be taken across Gaza's southwestern
border into Egyptian territory while groups of Palestinian prisoners are
transferred from Israeli jails to the Egyptian border near Eilat, on
the edge of the Sinai Desert.
Of the 450 Palestinian men and 27 women to be freed in this first phase
of the exchange, out of a total of 1,000 men set for release in the
coming months, 111 will go home to the West Bank and
east Jerusalem, and 130 will go home to the Gaza
Six Arab-Israeli prisoners will be allowed to return to their homes in
Israel. The rest -- 203 men and two of the 27 women prisoners --will be
exiled to unnamed third countries, probably to join the Palestinian