Israel has confirmed it will release 20 Palestinian women prisoners in return for information from Hamas on the condition of an Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip.
Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006. Hamas has been demanding Israel release more than 400 of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners for his freedom. A statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office said Israel will receive proof Gilad Shalit is alive and details about his condition. It said this was a confidence-building gesture before critical stages in negotiations for Shalit’s release. A source said Egyptian and German mediators would continue to work on the deal to exchange the soldier. A source close to the negotiations said he expected the women prisoners and the information on Shalit to be exchanged by the end of this week.