Israel Comes to Grips with Prisoner Exchange

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The long-awaited prisoner swap to secure the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has elicited strong emotional responses both in favor and against. 

For Shalit's parents, brother, and many Israelis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement Tuesday brought indescribable relief and rejoicing.

Countrywide, most families shared Noam and Aviva Shalit's happiness at the prospect of their son's homecoming after more than five years in captivity.

But for those whose parents, spouses, siblings, and children were brutally murdered by some of the Palestinians being set free in exchange for Shalit, it's a bitter pill to swallow.

Exactly 1,027 prisoners, some serving life sentences for suicide bombings, knifings, drive-by shootings, and other terror attacks that killed and injured hundreds of Israelis, are due to be released in the two-part prisoner exchange.

On Thursday night, a 27 year old from Givat Shmuel in central Israel, spray painted "price tag" and "free Yigal Amir" graffiti on the Tel Aviv memorial of slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Amir assassinated Rabin at a peace rally in 1995.

Though police have yet to release an official statement, one prisoner who will be released includes the female terrorist who drove the suicide bomber to Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria in 2001.

The tagger's parents and three siblings were among the 15 Israelis killed in the bombing, which wounded 130 others.

Shalit Won't Be the Last

On Wednesday, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the "military wing" of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), warned that "Shalit would not be the last [soldier to be kidnapped]."

"The Zionist soldier Gilad Shalit would not be the last as long as [the] Zionist occupation [is] kidnapping our prisoners," the terror group warned on its website. 

They added that they remain committed to freeing "every prisoner…by any way the brigades see suitable."

Hamas claimed that Israel met 95 percent of its demands in the swap.

On Saturday night, Israel will publish the list of prisoners to be released Tuesday in the first of the two-stage swap, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said earlier this week, giving Israelis opposed to the deal 48 hours to petition the court.

On the same night, Netanyahu's principal negotiator, David Meidan, will travel to Cairo to finalize the complex details of the exchange.

If all goes as planned, Shalit could be home as early as Tuesday, Gantz said. 

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Tzippe Barrow

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From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.