A senior Hamas delegation has arrived in Cairo amid growing expectations that the Palestinian movement is on the verge of releasing 23-year-old Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who has been held captive in Gaza for over three years.
Shalit’s father remains cautious: “Of course we are looking forward to seeing Gilad at home after so many years, so many days, months, weeks and years, but this will probably not surprise you,” he said. “Unfortunately I can’t and won’t speak today. I said before, this is not a time for chatter but a time for action.” As a Hamas delegation left Gaza bound for Egypt, where the deal has been brokered, speculation mounted that a prisoner swap deal was imminent. In Gaza city, mothers gathered, clutching pictures of their loved ones as news of the talks spread. Diplomats close to the negotiations believe Israel may be about to exchange as many as 350 to 450 prisoners on condition that many of them go into exile instead of returning to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.