Yoram Cohen, the chief of the Israel Security Agency, and David Meidan, the prime minister’s special emissary for the return of Gilad Shalit, held a press briefing on Tuesday evening in which they outlined the deal that was reached for Shalit’s release.
“The deal for Shalit’s return was signed this morning,” Cohen said. “In recent years we have worked towards bringing Shalit back. Over the years Hamas has set tough requirements for his release, among them the demand for the release of 1,400 terror prisoners.”
Cohen added, “The agreement that was signed this morning is for 110 prisoners who will be freed to their homes in Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem. 96 will be returned to Judea and Samaria and 14 will return to East Jerusalem.”
Cohen added that 203 prisoners who were residents of Judea and Samaria will be deported to Gaza.
Meidan described the turning point in the negotiations with Hamas.
“I was appointed for this job six months ago,” he said. “Until July we didn’t receive an answer from Hamas. The turning point occurred in July 2011, when we received, for the first time, a letter from Hamas in which it was written: a proposal to close the deal. We saw hope, took the Egyptians as an intermediary and they entered the talks between us and Hamas.”
Meidan noted that none of the arch terrorists will be released, including Marwan Barghouti, Abdullah Barghouti, and Ahmed Saadat who murdered former Minister Rechavam Ze’evi.
“These are all senior commanders of Hamas that we insisted must stay in jail,” he said. “We are releasing many terrorists to Gaza, of which 280 have blood on their hands.”
“I believe they will continue their terror activities but we can meet the security challenges they will create for us in the future,” Meidan added.
Cohen emphasized that “Israel did not say it would not hit the terrorists being released. We have more difficulty than others to release people with blood on their hands who would endanger the public. It is much easier for me to be tough in my position, but we thought it was best to bring our soldier home this way. This is a bad deal and is certainly not easy for the bereaved families. This is not a good deal; this is a deal which is hard to digest.”