Israel continued negotiations on Tuesday regarding a prisoner swap with Palestinians. The meetings took place in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem.
He presented his cabinet a deal made with Hamas to exchange more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who has been held prisoner for five years.
"This deal was initialled this morning in Cairo. It is being discussed now by the full government. It’s not easy. On one hand be have an obligation to bring our serviceman home. He has been held now brutally by Hamas for more than five years in Gaza. On the other hand, we don't want to enter a deal in which we endanger the Israeli public by releasing hard-core killers who would return to murder and terrorism. We think the deal that is on the table has the right balance, that it minimizes the security risks involved, and of course brings Gilad Shalit home to his family, back to Israel," said Mark Regev, the Prime Minister's spokesperson.
This agreement comes as a breakthrough for Israel after many years of attempting to free Shalit since his capture in 2006.
Hamas officials said Israel would release 1,027 prisoners, 450 of them in the following week, with the rest to be freed in the next two months.
However, critiscism has emerged over the deal.
"The deal will bring more casualties to the area. Hamas has a big victory on our state. Thousand of terrorists on the street will kill many Israelis, as it’s happened in the past. 180 Israelis paid for releasing terrorists in the last five years. I am really afraid. I think we have a weak prime minister, a politician, and he is paying for a picture with Gilad Shalit in the life of the others who will be killed in the future," said Meir Eindor, a spokesperson for Almagor, an Israeli terror victims organization.
It was not immediately clear how many of the prisoners were jailed for attacks that caused Israeli casualties. Under Israeli law, opponents of their release have at least 48 hours to appeal to courts to keep them behind bars.
Mark Regev - Israeli PM spokesperson
Meir Eindor - Almagor spokesperson