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Hamas frees Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in prisoner swap

Israeli Defense Forces via AP

In this photo released by the Israeli Government Press Office, released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, center, salutes as he is welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, at the Tel Nof Air base in southern Israel on Oct. 18. Looking thin, weary and dazed, the Israeli soldier returned home Tuesday from 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.

Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

Israeli supporters of captive soldier Gilad Shalit celebrate on his arrival to his home on October 18 in Mitzpe Hila, Israel. Shalit was freed after being held captive for five years in Gaza by Hamas militants, in a deal which saw Israel releasing more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners


From msnbc.com news services:

JERUSALEM  — Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and hundreds of Palestinians crossed Israel's borders in opposite directions on Tuesday as a thousand-for-one prisoner exchange brought joy to families but did little to ease decades of conflict.

Sergeant Shalit, 25, returned home to a national outpouring of emotion in Israel after five years in captivity in the Gaza Strip, while the first few hundred of over a thousand Palestinians being freed in stages from Israeli jails were greeted with kisses and flags in Gaza and the West Bank.

"I missed my family," a pale and extremely thin Shalit said in an interview with Egyptian TV conducted before he was transferred to Israel and broadcast after he went free.

"I hope this deal will promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians," said Shalit, whose breathing labored at times.

Click here to see images of Palestinian families waiting for their released relatives.

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