After five years in captivity with no outside contact at all, finally a deal has been reached to release Gilad Shalit. The price is 1,027 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons for crimes of terrorism and murder.
The Gilad Shalit deal will be implemented in two stages. In the first stage, 450 prisoners will be handed over to various territories, not all will be returning to Gaza or the West Bank where their families live. Shalit will be transferred to Egypt and from there flown to Israel. In two months time, a further 550 Palestinians will be released according to the choosing that suits Israel.
The deal has been made possible due to various factors including new heads of the Mossad and the Shin Bet in Israel, a new regime in Egypt that has wanted to show its relevance and strength amidst the perception that the Egpytian government is in turmoil and not in control and a Hamas which is losing popularity in the Gaza Strip and feeling its Headquaters on unstable ground in Damascus as the Syrian regime heads towards a civil war.
The price is high but it was never going to get lowered and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu decided the window of opportunity was there to be taken, especially as Hamas had loosened its tight grip on the negotiations since June. The Gilad Shalit deal closes a chapter, though Hamas has not renounced its policy of kidnapping more Israeli soldiers and so the potential is still high for more as well as an increased danger of those being released being free to resume their terrorist activities.