IDF finalizes timeline for Schalit’s return

Netanyahu tells Meidan: Mission will be completed once Gilad is returned to his family; the two discuss final details of prisoner swap.

By
October 16, 2011 16:42
2 minute read.
Schalit tent empty

Schalit tent empty . (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The 24-hour countdown to Gilad Schalit’s release from Hamas captivity begins on Monday after the IDF finalized plans for the prisoner swap, which is expected to begin Tuesday morning with Schalit’s transfer from Gaza to Egypt.

On Sunday, Israel’s chief negotiator during the Schalit talks, David Meidan, returned from Cairo, where he finalized the details of the release. Meidan met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and updated him about the plans. According to a communiqué issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu said that “the mission will be completed when Gilad Schalit returns safe and sound to his family.”

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On Sunday, Barak met with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz and OC Operations Directorate Maj.- Gen. Yaakov Ayish to review the details of the prisoner swap.

Under the plan, Schalit will be transferred Tuesday morning to Egypt from Gaza. He will then be transferred across the border to Israel, where he will be taken to a nearby military base to undergo a series of medical exams.

If pronounced healthy, Schalit will then be flown to the Tel Nof Air Force Base near Rehovot, which has already set up a room for the small reception where Schalit will meet his parents for the first time in five years, as well as Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Following the meeting and a number of medical exams, Schalit will be flown to his home in Mitzpe Hila.

The IDF is concerned that terror groups in the Gaza Strip will try to torpedo the deal by attempting to attack Israel over the coming 48 hours and that Israeli right-wing groups will try to prevent the release of the Palestinian prisoners to Gaza and the West Bank.

Yaakov Amidror, the head of the National Security Council, said Sunday that the prisoner exchange would go through unless “the High Court intervenes or someone in Gaza goes crazy.”

One government official likened what will take place on Tuesday to one side taking a step up the ladder, followed by a step up a rung by the other side, which will trigger a third step by the other side, until the deal is completed.

The official would not divulge who will take the first step, or what it will be.

In a related development, Netanyahu spoke Sunday with Dudu Arad, the brother of missing airman Ron Arad, who was captured exactly 25 years ago. Netanyahu told Arad of the last conversation he had with his mother, Batya, before she died in 2002. During that call, Netanyahu said she expressed her yearning to see her son.

“Ron Arad’s fate was before my eyes when I approved the deal for the return of Gilad Schalit,” the prime minister said.

Click for full JPost coverage of Gilad Schalit


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