Oct. 17 - Family members of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jail await their planned release Tuesday as Israeli President Peres praises deal. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Preparing to celebrate. Palestinians in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip erect a stage to welcome hundreds of prisoners held in Israeli jails. Israel bused 430 Palestinian prisoners under heavy guard to a holding facility in the desert Sunday. They will be exchanged on Tuesday for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit, a tank crewman, was captured in 2006 by militants who tunneled into Israel from fenced-off Gaza and spirited him into the enclave. He is expected to be handed over in Egypt's adjacent Sinai desert and flown to Israel. In Gaza, mothers hold pictures of their sons and await their return. SOUNDBITE: Mother of Prisoner Tareq Abu Shlouf, saying: (Arabic): "Thank God that it (agreement) was fulfilled. We will never believe it until we see them. Thank God. We respect the resistance members who refused to release Shalit until our hero prisoners are released," Israeli President Shimon Peres also hailed the swap. SOUNDBITE: Israeli President Shimon Peres, saying: (Hebrew): "There is an excited unity of hearts in this Sukkah, in a heart-tearing test. This is a special Sukkah as it's full of expectation for a dear guest who is on his way home. Gilad (Shalit), one soldier, had tested a big value in our history which is 'saving one soul in Israel is like saving the soul of a people'," The repatriation of captured soldiers, alive or dead, has long been an emotionally charged issue for Israelis, many of whom have served in the military. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters