Shelby: Palestinians and Israelis have been fighting for decades but, yesterday, there was a historic exchange across borders. Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was set free after being held prisoner for five years. He was captured when he was 19-years-old by Hamas, the militant Palestinian group. But Schalit’s freedom came with a big price tag. Hamas turned him over in exchange for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners.
It is believed that nearly three hundred of them are responsible for some of the deadliest attacks against Israelis, like this hotel bombing that killed thirty people celebrating Passover in 2002.
“It’s painful, it’s hard for us, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Shelby: While a poll shows that most Israelis back the thousand-to-one prisoner swap, some are opposed and say that Israel is giving into the militants.
“It’s going to be a disaster to Israel. It’s a surrender to terrorism.”
Shelby: The most high-profile prisoners are not being released, and many of those who are will be sent away to other countries and won’t be allowed to return home. Israel’s prime minister warned that the freed prisoners will be punished if they return to violence. Still, the deal is viewed as a great victory for Hamas.
In Gaza City, thousands of Palestinians celebrated. Waving flags and blasting music, they welcomed the freed inmates home. They say the release is a big step in getting more rights for Palestinians, and they claim some people were falsely arrested.
This man says, ‘Thank God. We want to tell the whole world that Palestinians are a great nation.’
Some Israelis fought hard to stop the release of Palestinian inmates. They say Israel will end up paying the price for cutting such an uneven deal for Shalit’s freedom.
As for Shalit, he says he hopes the swap will promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.