Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finished watching the videotape of Gilad Shalit received in exchange for releasing female Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
The videotape is over two minutes long, showing a healthy-looking Shalit speaking lucidly about his past. Sources that watched the video said it was recorded recently.
Earlier, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazy arrived at the General Headquarters in Tel Aviv and watched the videotape of the captive soldier. Envoy Hagai Hadas also viewed the recording, and immediately after watching it gave a green light to release the 19 female Palestinian prisoners promised in exchange for the video.
Ashkenazi and Hagai then delivered the video to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Netanyahu Friday morning, and then let to view the video at his office in Tel Aviv.
IDF Human Resources head Brigadier General Avi Zamir left to deliver the video to the Shalit family at their home in Mitzpe Hila.
In the northern community of Miztpe Hila, the Shalit family awaits the Defense Ministry representative's arrival with the video. Shortly before noon, the soldier's father Noam Shalit told Ynet, "We still do not have the exact timetable. I believe that around noon we should get the video. We still don't know how we will feel about having it published. I guess we will watch it, consider it and decide later on."
Police forces were deployed in the area, to maintain order around the Shalit family home. The family has tried to keep expectations low, and have said they would like to watch the video in private.
Meanwhile, activists from the campaign for Shalit's release protested at Erez crossing near the Gaza Strip, and carried a large sign painted and signed by art students in Tel Aviv / The activists said they planned to wait for the Palestinian prisoner meant to cross through Erez.
Diego, one of the activists, said, "We are here to remind everyone that the tape is a very big and important step. It's a serious stem, but this prisoner is going home to her children, and our child Gilad is still there and he should return to his parents as these prisoners are returning to their families."
Hanan Greenberg and Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report