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Thread: Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit freed in swap for 1,000 prisoners

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit freed in swap for 1,000 prisoners

    TEL NOF AIR BASE, Israel — Looking thin, weary and dazed, Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit emerged Tuesday from more than five years in captivity, surrounded by Hamas militants with black face masks who handed him over to Egyptian mediators in an exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Israeli officials said Schalit showed signs of malnutrition and his father said he needed time to recover from psychological and physical wounds.

    More than 450 Palestinians were transferred from Israeli prisons to the West Bank and Gaza, where massive celebratory rallies festooned with green Hamas flags were held. In Gaza City, tens of thousands crammed into an open lot where a huge stage was set up, decorated with a mural depicting Schalit's capture in a June 2006 raid on an army base near the Gaza border.

    The crowd exhorted militants to seize more soldiers for future swaps.

    The rest of the prisoners – about 550 more – are to be released in a second phase in two months.

    Before he was flown to an Israel air base where he was reunited with his parents, Schalit spoke to Egyptian TV in an interview Israeli officials later called "shocking." Looking gaunt and uncomfortable, Schalit struggled to speak at times, his breathing noticeably labored as he awkwardly answered questions. He said he felt good and was "very excited" to be going free.

    Still, the circumstances of his release, along with the awkward TV interview, in which masked Hamas militants hovered in the background, raised questions about the conditions the 25-year-old had endured.

    After a tumultuous day that included a reception with the prime minister, Schalit touched down in his hometown of Mitzpe Hila in northern Israel late Tuesday on board a military helicopter.

    Thousands of people jammed the streets and stood on rooftops to celebrate Schalit's return. The ecstatic crowd sang songs, waved Israeli flags, popped champagne bottles, embraced and cheered him on. A smiling Schalit briefly waved to the crowd before ducking into his family's house.

    Stepping outside, Schalit's father, Noam, thanked the Israeli public for years of support and asked people to respect their privacy.

    He said his son was healthy overall, but would need time to recover from psychological and physical wounds after five years in Hamas captivity.

    Noam Schalit said his son was suffering from shrapnel wounds, apparently suffered during his 2006 abduction, as well as lack of exposure to sunlight. He also said his son was having trouble coping with all the attention.

    "Naturally he can't be exposed to so many people because he was in isolation so many days and years and couldn't interact with people in his language, and all he could do was communicate with his abductors and guards," Noam Schalit said.

    He said his son hadn't said much about his captivity, only that his treatment was poor at the beginning but improved in recent years.

    Gilad Schalit – the first Israeli soldier returned home alive in 26 years – was whisked across Gaza's border into Egypt early in the morning by armed Hamas militants in an SUV, setting the swap into motion.

    Wearing a black baseball cap and gray shirt, the soldier, who had not been seen in public since his capture, was turned over to Egyptian mediators by top Hamas militants, some with their faces covered in black masks with the green headband of Hamas' military wing. Among them was Ahmed Jabari, the shadowy head of Hamas' militant wing, one of Israel's most-wanted militants.

    Schalit, still escorted by Hamas gunmen, was then taken to a border crossing, where an Egyptian TV crew interviewed him before he was finally sent into Israel.

    Stumbling over his words, he spoke in the interview of missing his family and friends, said he feared he would remain in captivity "many more years" and worried the deal might fall through after learning about it last week.

    "Of course I missed my family. I missed friends, meeting people to talk to people, and not to sit all day, to do the same things," he said, speaking in Hebrew.

    As Schalit spoke, a masked Hamas gunman could be seen standing in the background, his hand on the Israel soldier's shoulder.

    Israeli officials reacted angrily to the interview, saying it was inappropriate to force Schalit to answer questions in such difficult circumstances. But the interviewer, Shahira Amin, said he had not been coerced.

    Egyptian security officials said Israel had agreed to allow the interview – something that Israeli officials vehemently denied.

    Later, video released by the Israeli military showed a wan-looking Schalit being helped into an army jeep after crossing the border into Israel, then exiting a military caravan after changing into a fresh army uniform. Military officials said a physical exam found him to be in "good" condition, though he showed signs of malnutrition and lack of exposure to the sun.

    Schalit was then flown to an air base in central Israel, where he was hugged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, and reunited with his family. Video footage showed Schalit's father hugging and kissing his son, before saying "come see your mother" and leading him away.

    Speaking afterward, Netanyahu said he understood the pain of Israeli families who lost relatives in Palestinian violence, but that Israel's ethos of doing everything possible to bring its soldiers home safely forced him to act.
    He also issued a staunch warning to the freed militants.

    "We will continue to fight terror and every released terrorist who returns to terror will be held accountable," he said.

    Those concerns were underscored with comments by Palestinian prisoners and demonstrators for more soldier kidnappings to bring home the thousands of Palestinians who remain in Israeli prisons.

    "The people want a new Gilad!" the crowd chanted in Gaza.

    Hamas agreed to release Schalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many of them serving life sentences for deadly attacks on Israelis. On Tuesday, 477 were set free, with the remainder to be released in two months.

    To address Israeli security concerns, Hamas agreed that some 200 prisoners originally from the West Bank would be deported to the fenced-in Gaza Strip instead. Forty-one others were deported from the area altogether, sent to Jordan, Qatar, Syria and Turkey.

    Hamas, which negotiated Tuesday's swap, has controlled Gaza since capturing the territory from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

    Hamas turned Tuesday's celebration in Gaza into a show of strength for the Islamic militant movement.

    Thousands hoisted green Hamas flags, while a far smaller number raised the banners of rival movement Fatah, led by Abbas.

    In the West Bank, Abbas addressed a crowd of several thousand, including released prisoners and their relatives. In an attempt at unity, he shared a stage with three Hamas leaders in the West Bank and at one point, the four men raised clasped hands in triumph.

    Still, Abbas is likely to suffer politically as a result of the swap, the most significant for the Palestinians in nearly three decades. Over years of negotiating with Israel, Abbas has only been able to bring about the release of those who had little time left on their sentences.

    While Israel has a long history of numerically uneven prisoner swaps since the 1980s, Tuesday's deal was by far the most lopsided. Schalit was the first captive soldier to be returned home alive since May 1985, when Israel swapped 1,150 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners for three Israeli soldiers captured in Lebanon after Israel invaded in 1982.

    Tuesday's release capped a five-and-a-half-year saga that has seen multiple Israeli military offensives in Gaza, an Israeli blockade on the territory and numerous rounds of failed negotiations.

    An intense media campaign to free Schalit made him a national symbol in Israel, and all local radio and TV stations held special live broadcasts Tuesday, following every step of the exchange. The voices of Israeli broadcasters cracked with emotion as news of his return became clear.

    Israel and Hamas have held numerous rounds of talks through German and Egyptian mediators. But officials on both sides have said that conditions prompted in part by the recent Egyptian revolution helped drive them to an agreement. Both sides have been eager to have good ties with the new Egyptian leadership.

    News of the deal was welcomed by the U.S., Britain, France and Germany, among others. Schalit holds French citizenship, while a German mediator was closely involved in the years of negotiations.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking while on a stop in Tripoli, Libya, Tuesday, said the U.S. was pleased the ordeal was over.
    "He was held for far too long in captivity," Clinton said.


    Israeli soldier freed in swap for 1,000 prisoners
    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Freed Palestinian prisoner vows to 'sacrifice' her life

    An unsuccessful suicide bomber released from prison as part of the deal to free Gilad Shalit, the Israeli conscript, on Wednesday vowed to fulfil a childhood ambition by "sacrificing" her life for the Palestinian cause.

    As she returned to her family home in northern Gaza, Wafa al-Bis insisted she would seize any opportunity to mount another suicide mission and encouraged dozens of cheering schoolchildren to follow her example.

    Bis was one of hundreds of Palestinian militants freed by Israel on Tuesday in the first phase of a prisoner swap agreed with Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist overlords, to win the freedom of Sgt Maj Shalit after five years in solitary confinement.

    Her words will chill critics of the deal who argue that many of the 1,027 Palestinians who are to be released from prison will return to violence once they have been freed. For most Israelis, such fears have been consigned to the future as an anxious nation watched to see how the 25-year-old conscript was faring on his first full day at home in Mitzpe Hila, his home village in the hills above the Sea of Galilee.

    They were given a brief glimpse as he took his first stroll, supported by his mother and wearing dark glasses against the unaccustomed sunlight.

    In the coming days and weeks, he is expected to be debriefed on his captivity by both military intelligence and the secret service, Mossad. But military officials say they want to leave him to recover his health with his family first, and will be guided by his medical condition.

    Sgt Maj Shalit joked with military doctors examining him and is in better health than some expected. When told his condition was broadly “stable”, he is said to have replied: “I expected you to be surprised by my good condition.”

    In contrast to the private reunion under way in northern Galilee, the scene in Gaza remained festive as freed Palestinian captives greeted relations and well-wishers at tented receptions.

    But few were as outspoken as the would-be suicide bomber. Bis was just 21 when, in 2005, she volunteered to undertake a suicide mission in Israel.

    Her target, Israel says, was a hospital where she had been given permission to seek treatment for burns she sustained in a gas tank explosion. She never got there. Stopped by suspicious Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on Gaza’s border, she was discovered with 22lb of explosives sewn into a belt inside her underwear. Bis tried to blow herself up but the detonator malfunctioned.

    Speaking in her bedroom, the shelves of which were lined with soft toys, Bis yesterday maintained that the six years she spent in an Israeli prison cell had left her with no regrets other than her failure to kill herself and her captors, although she insisted that her target was only ever going to be a military one.

    “I wanted to be the first female martyr from Gaza to kill Israeli soldiers and I wanted to kill as many as I could,” she said. “I had wanted to be a martyr since I was a kid. I regard what I did as an honourable thing. It was my dream to be a martyr but God didn’t let me.”

    If given the opportunity, she added, she would fulfil her destiny to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces. “As long as there is going to be occupation over all of Palestine, martyrs will be there to resist and to fight, and I will be among the first of the strugglers,” she said. “This is an honourable thing and I would be a suicide bomber three times over if I could.”

    Bis’s mother Salma said she had no idea of her daughter’s mission — but added that she felt she had no choice but to encourage her in her chosen course of life. “This is Jihad, it is an honourable thing and I am proud of her,” she said.

    Despite Sgt Maj Shalit’s apparent good humour, he is understood to be showing signs of his long imprisonment, in which conditions were said at first to be “poor”, though he has not been questioned on this aspect of his captivity yet.

    He has difficulty climbing the stairs and his pallor is attributed to the lack of light he experienced in captivity.

    Gilad Shalit release: freed Palestinian prisoner vows to 'sacrifice' her life - Telegraph
    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    admittedly i don't know a lot about this case but this seems like a stupid move on israel's behalf.
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    Elite Member DeChayz's Avatar
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    I mean this is a completely non-bitchy way, but what's so special about this one soldier that warranted freeing over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, at least one of whom has vowed to attack again? Is it just the symbolism of an Israeli soldier being returned alive for the first time in almost 30 years? I agree with Sput, it seems pretty foolish.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    i think it's shameless, opportunistic self-promotion on netanyahu's part because an overwhelming majority of israelis backed shalit's return and the prisoner swap, and he totally sold it as his personal fight to bring him back.
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    Elite Member WhateverLolaWants's Avatar
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    Israel is allowed to imprison palestinian men and boys without them actually committing a crime of any sort. Often men and boys at check points will be arresting after doing nothing but that...arriving at the check point.

    It is likely many of those released are NOT Hamas affiliated, though obviously some of them are. The idea that all 1000 are hamas terrorists is about as likely as picking 1000 american men and boys and all 1000 being tea partiers.

    This is a strange move on Israel's part and I hope it doesn't mean that all-out war is coming.
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    Elite Member NHKMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeChayz View Post
    I mean this is a completely non-bitchy way, but what's so special about this one soldier that warranted freeing over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, at least one of whom has vowed to attack again? Is it just the symbolism of an Israeli soldier being returned alive for the first time in almost 30 years? I agree with Sput, it seems pretty foolish.
    Foolish?

    The fact that my country cares for one soldier who was in captivity for over 5 years is STUPID? That an entire country fought to bring a young guy back to his family is FOOLISH? No. We care about our soldiers, and each and every one IS special.

    Sorry if it seems like an attack, it just really gets to me as an Israeli who served in the army for 3 years. When you join the army, one of the things you know is that our country will do anything to bring you back if something similar happens.

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    Elite Member NHKMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhateverLolaWants View Post
    Israel is allowed to imprison palestinian men and boys without them actually committing a crime of any sort. Often men and boys at check points will be arresting after doing nothing but that...arriving at the check point.

    It is likely many of those released are NOT Hamas affiliated, though obviously some of them are. The idea that all 1000 are hamas terrorists is about as likely as picking 1000 american men and boys and all 1000 being tea partiers.
    .
    Hundreds of these prisoners are in fact MURDERERS.
    Firfuxache likes this.

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    Elite Member WhateverLolaWants's Avatar
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    Okay, this is a genuine question, not meant to be snide in any way. I genuinely want to know how YOU know that hundreds of them are murderers? Is there a list somewhere connecting each prisoner to their crimes/rap sheet?

    The American media gives us a very biased viewpoint of what goes on, and the only opposing viewpoint I have is a group of friends who moved to the US to escape the area in the West Bank where their water was being poisoned and a settlement was being built between them and their farmland. So their viewpoint is obviously baised as well.

    I would really like to hear the viewpoint of an Israeli not biased by the *US*media (Which has a different agenda from the Israeli media)
    Firfuxache likes this.
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Fuck israel, fuck palestine, all of you grow the fuck up because the rest of us are TIRED OF LISTENING TO YOUR FUCKING STUPID SHIT OVER A WORTHLESS DIRTPILE STRIP OF FUCKING LAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLDS ASSHOLE

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    Elite Member NHKMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhateverLolaWants View Post
    Okay, this is a genuine question, not meant to be snide in any way. I genuinely want to know how YOU know that hundreds of them are murderers? Is there a list somewhere connecting each prisoner to their crimes/rap sheet?

    The American media gives us a very biased viewpoint of what goes on, and the only opposing viewpoint I have is a group of friends who moved to the US to escape the area in the West Bank where their water was being poisoned and a settlement was being built between them and their farmland. So their viewpoint is obviously baised as well.

    I would really like to hear the viewpoint of an Israeli not biased by the *US*media (Which has a different agenda from the Israeli media)
    That's ok. There is in fact a list of the crimes each prisoner commanded. Many of them are murderers who killed many people... Still - worth bringing a young guy back to his family after all this time

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    Elite Member NHKMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    Fuck israel, fuck palestine, all of you grow the fuck up because the rest of us are TIRED OF LISTENING TO YOUR FUCKING STUPID SHIT OVER A WORTHLESS DIRTPILE STRIP OF FUCKING LAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLDS ASSHOLE

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    I really don't think that was appropriate, considering the thread's original topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NHKMM View Post
    That's ok. There is in fact a list of the crimes each prisoner commanded. Many of them are murderers who killed many people... Still - worth bringing a young guy back to his family after all this time

    Oh, so there's a LIST. Well, that settles everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    Oh, so there's a LIST. Well, that settles everything.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^^
    i have a question that doesn't really have to do with the topic of this thread: what do you think of the settlements? do you think israel has a right to kust keep expanding wherever they want and claiming more land and building these settlements? how do you justify that?
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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