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Israeli soldier's family celebrate his imminent release

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Israeli soldier's family celebrate his imminent release

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A symbolic day, with sadness mixed with happiness.

Those are the words from the father of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier due to be freed in a prisoner swap with the group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

1,000 Palestinian prisoners are due to be released by Israel as part of the deal.

Noam Shalit, the father of the captured soldier, said: “It’s a symbolic day, in which the Israeli government succeeded after more than five years: 1935 hard days, 1935 long nights, to bring Gilad, our son, home.”

The Shalit family congratulated the Israeli Prime Minister for what they called his “courageous decision”.

Relatives of 25-year-old Gilad Shalit have been camping outside the prime minister’s office for months as part of a vigil.

But while there have been celebrations in Israel on news of the prisoner swap, others have held demonstrations against the move.

The deal was struck with the help of Egyptian and German mediators.

Gilad Shalit was captured in 2006.