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Remaining 550 Palestinian prisoners are released to complete Israeli deal with Hamas

Eyad Baba / AP

A Palestinian prisoner is greeted by an unidentified relative after his release at the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, Dec. 18. Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners late Sunday, the second and final phase of a swap with Gaza Hamas militants that brought home an Israeli soldier after five years in captivity.

Majdi Mohammed / AP

Released Palestinian prisoners celebrate as they arrive to the West Bank city of Ramallah, early Monday, Dec. 19. Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners late Sunday, the second and final phase of a swap with Gaza Hamas militants that brought home an Israeli soldier after five years in captivity.

AP reports:

Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners late Sunday, the second and final phase of a swap with Gaza Hamas militants that brought home an Israeli soldier after five years in captivity.

Under the Egypt-brokered deal, Israel agreed to exchange a total of 1,027 prisoners for Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in June 2006. Schalit returned home in October when Israel freed the first batch of 477 prisoners. Sunday's release of 550 prisoners completed the swap, the most lopsided in Israel's history.

The release Sunday night was not infused with the same drama as the first phase, since the most significant players in the trade had already been freed. Continue reading.

See our PhotoBlog post on Gilad Schalit's release in October.

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Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

A freed Palestinian prisoner is greeted by people upon arrival at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on Dec. 18. Israel plans to release 550 Palestinian prisoners on Sunday in the second stage of a deal with Hamas that brought home soldier Gilad Shalit after five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip.

Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

A Palestinian prisoner celebrates during his release on Dec 18 in Ramallah, West Bank. Israel released 550 Palestinian prisoners to complete a swap deal which brought about the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit.