Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has returned to Israel after being freed by the Islamist Hamas movement in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
Palestinian Prisoners Expected To Be Freed
  • Here is a list of some key Palestinian inmates slated to be freed in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit:
  • Nael Barghouthi: Believed to be the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner. He received a life sentence in 1978 for his role in the murder of an Israeli during a Palestinian commando operation. He is sometimes referred to as the "dean" of Palestinian prisoners because of the length of time he has spent behind bars.
  • Sami Younis: Believed to be the oldest Palestinian prisoner, some reports say he is 78. He was detained by Israeli forces in 1983. He received a life sentence on charges that include participating in the killing of an Israeli soldier.
  • Yehya al-Sinwar: A Hamas leader who founded the group's security structure in Gaza. Convicted in the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli soldier. He is the brother of a Hamas member who was involved in the 2006 raid that resulted in the capture of Shalit.
  • Abdel Hadi Ghanem: An Islamic Jihad member who was convicted of hijacking an Israeli bus in 1989 and killing 16 passengers.
  • Mohammed al-Sharatha: Leader of a Hamas cell that kidnapped and killed two Israeli soldiers in 1989. Sentenced to three life terms.

  • Several high-profile Palestinian prisoners are not on the exchange list. They include:
  • Marwan Barghouti: Considered a possible successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Arrested in 2002, Barghouti is serving multiple life terms for his role in deadly attacks against Israelis.
  • Ahmed Saadat: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader was convicted of planning the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister in 2001.
The Israeli military said Shalit, who had been held since 2006, crossed into Israel Tuesday after Hamas transferred custody of him to Egypt earlier in the day.

He underwent a medical exam and spoke to his family by telephone, before being taken by helicopter to reunite with them at a military base in central Israel.

In an interview with Egyptian television after his release, a thin-looking Shalit said he was in good health and expressed hope the prisoner exchange deal would lead to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Excited crowds celebrated the return of the Palestinian prisoners in the Gaza Strip as well as in the West Bank, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed several thousand people.

The exchange calls for the release of 477 Palestinian inmates Tuesday and another 550 over a two-month period.

About 100 of the Palestinians are being sent to the West Bank and roughly 40 are to be deported to Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and Syria. The rest are being freed in Gaza.

Shalit, now 25 years-old, was captured by Palestinian militants in a 2006 cross-border raid from Gaza into southern Israel.

Israel's Supreme Court upheld the prisoner exchange deal Monday, rejecting four petitions submitted by relatives of Israelis killed in Palestinian attacks.

Some of the prisoners to be released were involved in planning and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis, including more than 280 Palestinians serving life sentences. More than 100 are considered hardcore militants.

In Washington Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said international mediators will meet separately with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Jerusalem on October 26, in an effort to re-launch peace talks.

The Middle East Quartet of mediators includes the U.S., European Union, Russia and the United Nations. The talks will just miss the 30-day deadline to restart preliminary talks that the Quartet set on September 23.

Quartet envoy Tony Blair, Britain's former prime minister, will attend the meetings.