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      Egyptian Paper: Prisoner Exchange in 2-3 Weeks

      Israel, Hamas and Hizbullah have reportedly reached an agreement, stipulating the release of the three captive IDF soldiers for an unspecified number of Lebanese and Palestinian terrorist prisoners.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 8/30/2006, 12:08 PM / Last Update: 8/27/2006, 10:52 AM

      Al-Ahram reports that the deal was reached via the mediation efforts of Germany, which has mediated in other deals of this type in the past. The exchange will, or can, take effect within 2-3 weeks, the paper quotes "sources connected with the deal" as saying.

      Previous prisoner exchanges with Hizbullah have netted Israel a grand total of one live prisoner, in exchange for at least 650 terrorist prisoners; see below.

      Hizbullah leader arch-terrorist Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told NTV today that negotiations were underway, and that Italy has shown interest in mediating.

      The three Israeli prisoners were captured in two different incidents. Corp. Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas as he manned his tank in an IDF outpost near Gaza two months ago; eight Hamas Authority terrorists crawled through a tunnel from Gaza to Israel. Lt. Chanan Barak and St.-Sgt. Pavel Slotsker were killed in the attack.

      The other two kidnapped soldiers - reservists Ehud Goldwasser, 31, of Nahariya, and Eldad Regev, 26, from Kiryat Motzkin - were taken in an early-morning attack on July 12, kicking off the recent war in Lebanon. Four soldiers were killed in the attack, and four others were killed minutes later when their tank overran a mine as they sought to pursue the kidnappers.

      Al-Ahram states that Israel will release a small number of Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the two soldiers held by Hizbullah, and will then release an unspecified number of Palestinian Authority terrorists in exchange for Shalit.

      This is not the first time reports of a possible deal for the freedom of the three soldiers have been floated. Less than two weeks ago, it was reported that Egypt had nearly completed a deal by which Israel would release 600 PA Arabs, including women and children, in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

      Past Exchanges
      Israel and Hizbullah have carried out three prisoner exchange deals in the past - in which Israel obtained the return of a total of one live captive.

      In 1996, Israel freed 123 Lebanese prisoners, in exchange for the remains of two soldiers - Yosef Fink and Rachamim Alshich - who had been kidnapped and killed by Hizbullah ten years earlier.

      In June 1998, Hizballah returned the remains of Itamar Ilya in exchange for Lebanese prisoners and the remains of 40 Hizbullah terrorists, including the body of the son of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Ilya was an IDF commando who was killed, together with 11 others, on a mission between Sidon and Tyre nine months earlier.

      In January 2004, Israel released 400 Palestinian terrorists and 36 other Moslem terrorists, and the remains of some 60 Lebanese, in exchange for the remains of three IDF soldiers who had been kidnapped over three years earlier - Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Souad - and the release of captive Elchanan Tennenbaum, an Israeli who was kidnapped around the same time while on a dubious business trip to Arab countries.

      The most famous prisoner swap between Israel and the PLO was in May 1985. It was known as the Jibril Deal, because among the no fewer than 1,150 terrorist prisoners freed by Israel was Fatah terrorist Ahmed Jibril. In exchange, Israel received three live prisoners of war: Hezi Shai, who had been captured in the battle of Sultan Yaaqub during the Peace for Galilee War nearly three years earlier, and Yosef Grof and Nissim Salem, captured in Lebanon in September 1982.

      The Ramallah-based Mandela Institute for Human Rights says there are 9,600 Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centers, including 130 women.

      In addition to Shalit, Regev and Goldwasser, six other Israeli hostages and security agents are in foreign captivity or custody:
      • Guy (ben Rina) Hever, who disappeared near the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights in August 1997;
      • Ron (ben Batya) Arad, captured when his plane was downed over Lebanon in Oct. 1986;
      • Yehonatan (ben Malkah) Pollard, nearing the end of his 21st year of a life sentence in the U.S. for having passed information to Israel;
      • Tzvi (ben Pninah) Feldman, Yehuda (Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman ben Sarah) Katz, and Zecharia (Shlomo ben Miriam) Baumel, who were all captured in the Sultan Yaaqub battle in Lebanon on June 11, 1982.