, JERUSALEM, Oct 18 – Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in captivity in Gaza for over five years, arrived in Egypt on Tuesday after being released by Hamas, an Israeli military source told AFP.
“He was transferred to Egypt by Hamas 10 minutes ago, and an Israeli colonel will check his state of health,” he told AFP. “Afterwards, he will be transferred to Israel at around 9.00 am (0700 GMT).”
Shalit is being freed under the terms of an Egyptian-mediated deal that will see Israel release a total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including 477 in a first tranche on Tuesday.
Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades confirmed to AFP the transfer, adding that Shalit would not be transferred to Israeli custody until the first group of released Palestinians are freed.
The 25-year-old soldier was captured in a cross-border raid launched by three Gaza-based militant groups, including the ruling Hamas movement, on June 25, 2006.
Israel and Hamas negotiated for years to secure his release, with the help of both German and Egyptian mediators, but successive rounds of talks failed over the questions of how many Palestinians would be freed and to where.