Released Shalit returns home in historic prisoner swap
Hours after his release from more than five years in captivity, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returned home Tuesday as the families of released Palestinian prisoners celebrated the return of their loved ones in a historic prisoner swap.
- Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was taken to the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt early Tuesday and handed over to Egyptian authorities by his Hamas abductors more than five years after his capture.
- Meanwhile, the first batch of the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners to be freed in exchange for Shalit’s release began making their way to freedom. According to the deal, 477 Palestinians were set for release on Tuesday and 550 others are to be freed next month.
- The released Palestinian prisoners were given a rapturous welcome in Gaza and the West Bank. Some of the prisoners were sent on to other host countries, including Turkey, Syria and Qatar.
- Looking pale and drawn, Shalit told Egyptian TV he missed his family and friends in his first public comments since his release.
- Egyptian authorities later handed over Shalit to their Israeli counterparts. He was then reunited with his family at the Tel Nof base, where he also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
- And so ended a historic day in the Middle East, a day that saw celebrations on either side of one of the world’s most bitter border divides. Scroll below to follow the day’s events with FRANCE 24’s correspondents across the region.