Israel to Free Prisoners for Proof Shalit Alive

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel agreed to free 20 female Palestinian prisoners in exchange for "tangible proof" that kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is alive.

On Wednesday morning, the Security Cabinet issued a press release stating that the prisoners will be released in exchange for "updated and unequivocal proof regarding the well-being and status of Israeli Defense Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit.

"Proof that he is alive will be delivered to Israel in the form of a recently recorded video tape," a press release read.

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip kidnapped Shalit in June 2006 during a cross-border attack on an IDF outpost near the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which left two soldiers dead and three others wounded.

German mediators working with Egyptians to secure Shalit's release said Israel will receive a recent video that will prove the kidnapped soldier is alive.

The prisoner release and receipt of the videotape is slated for Friday.

"It is important that the whole world knows that Gilad Shalit is alive and well and that Hamas is responsible for his fate and well-being," Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said.

Names of the prisoners will be posted on the Israel Prison Service Web site.

Meanwhile, a statement on the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades Web site, the "military wing" of Hamas, said four of the prisoners slated for release belong to their faction, five are members of Fatah, three belong to Islamic Jihad, and one is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

All but one of the prisoners are residents of Palestinian Authority-controlled cities in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), including Jenin, Nablus, Hevron, Bethlehem and Ramallah.

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