Israel prepares for second stage of Shalit prisoner swap

Gilad Shalit speaks to his father for the first time in more than five years

Gilad Shalit speaks to his father for the first time in more than five years

Five hundred and fifty Palestinian prisoners will walk free on Sunday in the second stage of the deal that was struck to secure the release of Gilad Shalit.

Two months after the soldier returned home after more than five years as a captive of Hamas, Israel will again pay the heavy price accepted for his freedom.

A list of names of those who would be freed was published earlier this week.

In October 477 prisoners, including those behind terrorist attacks that left many dead, were let out early.

While Sergeant Shalit’s return was cause for celebration across Israel, the swap also caused anguish to the families of those killed at the hands of those who will soon walk free. In the days before the deal went through, some of the families of the victims of these terrorist attacks petitioned the Israeli courts to block the exchange.

However according to an Israeli official, none of those who are to be freed on Sunday have “blood on their hands”. Whereas Hamas selected prisoners last time, this week Israel has decided who will go free and, accordingly, none will be members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Last updated: 12:41pm, December 16 2011