Israel to Swap 980 Prisoners for Shalit

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JERUSALEM, Israel - The State Prosecutor's Office announced on Sunday that Israel will release 980 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit has been held by Hamas since he was captured on June 25, 2006 in a cross-border attack on an IDF outpost near the Gaza Strip that left two soldiers dead and three wounded.

Sunday's announcement came in response to a petition filed last week in the Supreme Court by three families who lost children in a suicide bombing at a Haifa restaurant in 2003.

The court will hear their petition on Monday afternoon, along with another petition filed by MK (member of Knesset) Yaakov Katz, which would require the government to release findings by the Shamgar Committee on criteria for prisoner swaps, which is scheduled to be released in a few weeks.

Two-stage Release

If the deal goes through, the prisoners will be released in two groups, beginning with 450 whose names were submitted by Hamas, followed by another 530 inmates chosen by Israel as a "goodwill gesture" to the Palestinian people.

Hamas continues to blame Israel for delaying the deal, claiming Israel has refused to include several prisoners on their list despite the promise to send them into exile. 

Meanwhile, Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, continue to meet with cabinet ministers.

"There's nothing new as of yet," Shalit's father said after a meeting on Monday with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.

On Sunday, Shalit's parents met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

"We neither feel encouraged nor the opposite," Shalit's father told reporters after the meeting. "We are still waiting," he said.

"We have nothing new. We will continue our meetings with all the members of the government, which we hope to complete by the end of the week," he said.

"When we see Gilad, we will know that we have achieved our goal. Until then, we cannot say," he said.

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