As preparations continue ahead of the unprecedented prisoner exchange deal that will see the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit from five years in Hamas captivity, the Defense Ministry on Sunday convened a meeting to brief its officials on the exchange deal, which will take place Tuesday.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and other military officials gave the ministry an overview of each step of the prisoner swap deal, which will see the coordinated exchange of Gilad Shalit for some 450 Palestinian prisoners, which will be transferred to different locations including east Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza.
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- Shalits to High Court: Don't change deal
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who approved the operational details, said "Gilad Shalit will return to his country and to his family after over five years in Hamas captivity.
PM with Meidan (L) and military secretary Yohanan Locker (M) (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
"He will be greeted with a modest reception," Barak said, stressing that the ministry will make sure that soldier and his family receive all the support they might need.
- For extensive coverage of the Shalit deal, click here
Earlier, special envoy to the negotiations on the Shalit deal, David Meidan, briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the final details of the prisoner swap agreed upon during his visit to Cairo over the weekend.
"The mission will be completed when Gilad Shalit returns to his family, alive and well," Netanyahu told Meidan during their meeting.
Red Cross representatives en-route to visit prisoners (Photo: Eliad Levy)
Netanyahu also spoke on Sunday with Dudu Arad, the brother of captive navigator Ron Arad who on Sunday marked 25 years since his capture.
During their conversation, Netanyahu told Arad about talks he had with his mother, the late Batya Arad, where she spoke of her yearning to see her son.
"Ron Arad's fate was at the forefront of my thoughts when I approved the deal to bring Gilad Shalit home," Netanyahu told Arad.
Also on Sunday, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited the Palestinian prisoners slated to be freed on Tuesday, and asked them about their concerns and feelings ahead of the release.
"If a prisoner expresses fear or concern about the location where he will be released, if it's different than his place of original residence, we take it up with the Israeli authorities, in a confidential manner," ICRC adviser Yuval Nevo told Ynet.
Nevo stressed that the Red Cross' activity is being conducted in accordance with the rules of International Humanitarian Law: "We offered different elements our services as a neutral mediator," he said, while refusing to address the organization's involvement in the release of Gilad Shalit.
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report
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