BEITUNIA, West Bank — Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners late Sunday, the second and final phase of a swap with Gaza Hamas militants that brought home an Israeli soldier after five years.
Under the Egypt-brokered deal, Israel agreed to exchange a total of 1,027 prisoners for Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in June 2006. Schalit returned home in October when Israel freed the first batch of 477 prisoners. Sunday's release of 550 prisoners completed the swap, the most lopsided in Israel's history.
The release Sunday night was not infused with the same drama as the first phase, since the most significant players in the trade had already been freed. more