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October 19, 2011

The transfer of prisoners: Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is returned home in exchange for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners

After being held captive by the Palestinian group Hamas for five years, Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit returned to his home in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel. As his family and friends were celebrating his freedom, 477 of an eventual 1,027 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons were released to mass celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, part of the deal with Hamas. Schalit, a tank crewman who is now 25, was captured in June of 2006 near the Gaza border. -- Lloyd Young (19 photos total)

Israeli Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz embraced released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak also greeted him at Tel Nof Airbase on Oct. 18. Looking thin, weary, and dazed, Schalit returned home after more than five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners whose joyful families greeted them with massive celebrations. (Israeli Government Press Office/Associated Press)

Flag-waving Israelis greet the convoy carrying freed Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit as it made its way to his home in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, Oct. 18. (Moran Maayan/Associated Press) #

People reacted as they saw the first images of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, Oct. 18. In the video, Schalit appeared thin and pale but otherwise healthy. (Oded Balilty/Associated Press) #

An Israeli military helicopter carrying released soldier Gilad Schalit landed in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, Oct. 18. (Ariel Schalit/Associated Press) #

Noam Schalit, father of released soldier Gilad Schalit, delivered a statement to the media in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, Oct. 18. He said, in part, "Today, we feel that we have experienced the birth of a new son. I wish to thank the public, all of you, those gathered here today to support us and greet Gilad with warmth and support, solidarity." (Ariel Schalit/Associated Press) #

Released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit was escorted by members of Hamas on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. Looking dazed, thin, and pale, Gilad Schalit emerged from a pickup truck on Oct. 18 under the escort of his Hamas captors and the Egyptian mediators who helped arrange the Israeli tank crewman's release after more than five years in captivity. (Khalid Farid/Associated Press) #

Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit saluted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after arriving at the Tel Nof Air base in southern Israel. ( Israeli Government Press Office/Associated Press) #

A woman cried upon seeing the first images of released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit after more than five years in captivity, at the Tel-Nof Air Force base. (Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press) #

Members of the Roman Jewish community waved Israeli flags as they celebrated the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, at Rome's Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. (Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press) #

A Hamas security officer watched a crowd of Palestinians celebrating the release of prisoners at the main square in Gaza City, Oct. 18. Hamas agreed to release Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many of them serving life sentences for deadly attacks on Israelis. The arrival of the prisoners set off celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where large crowds and dignitaries greeted them. (Majed Hamdan/Associated Press) #

The daughter of released Palestinian prisoner Walid Ghattas, who had been in prison for 20 years, cried as she waited for her meeting with Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal in Cairo on Oct. 18. Hundreds of Palestinians were freed from Israeli prisons in exchange for the release of Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier held for five years by the enclave's Islamist rulers, Hamas. (Amr Nabil/Associated Press) #

Relatives waved to Palestinian prisoners freed from Israeli jails as their bus crossed into Egypt at the border crossing in Rafah, Egypt. (Nasser Nasser/Associated Press) #

Alaeddin Ahmad Reza Albazian is carried on shoulders outside al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Oct. 18, after he was released from Israeli prison. (Awad Awad/Associated Press) #

Palestinian prisoners who were freed from Israeli jails waved from a bus in Rafah, Egypt. (Khalil Hamra/Associated Press) #

Egyptian police officers stood guard as a convoy of buses transporting freed Palestinian prisoners left the Egyptian terminal of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing in Rafah, Egypt. (Nasser Nasser/Associated Press) #

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (left) stood with released Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Al Hasani during a welcoming ceremony in Gaza City on Oct. 18. (Tara Todras-Whitehill/Associated Press) #

Residents waved to Israeli military helicopters, one of them transporting released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, as they approached Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, Oct. 18. (Ariel Schalit/Associated Press) #

Israelis released a dove as they celebrated the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit at the Kerem Shalom border crossing. (Tsafrir Abayov/Associated Press) #

Released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit was escorted by his father, Noam Schalit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minster Ehud Barak at Tel Nof Air base in southern Israel on Oct. 18. (Israeli Government Press Office/Associated Press) #



 
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