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Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The Palestinian Hamas movement and Israel have reached an agreement with Egyptian mediation to free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of prisoners in Israeli jails, Hamas officials said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem to approve the deal. Netanyahu sees a real possibility that it will lead to the release of Shalit after five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip, said a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Cabinet is still studying the agreement.
“We fully confirm that an agreement on Shalit’s deal was reached with Israel and the implementation will be in the coming few days after finishing all other arrangements,” said Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Hamas armed wing known as the Izzedein al-Qassam Brigades, speaking in a telephone interview from Gaza.
The deal was previously reported by Al Arabiya, which said Israel had agreed to free 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit. Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, said reports that an agreement had been struck were true, without giving further details.
Shalit was seized by militants connected to Hamas and other Palestinian groups in a June 2006 attack on an Israeli army outpost on the border with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. The Islamic movement is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.
--Editors: Digby Lidstone, Leon Mangasarian.
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