Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announced on Tuesday evening that they had concluded a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas that should see abducted soldier Gilad Shalit returned to his family within days.
Details regarding the deal were thin at press time, but Hamas officials in Gaza suggested that the agreed upon terms were somewhat different than previous proposals, and that the deal may include the release of jailed Israeli Arab terrorists.
Many Israeli government ministers have been opposed to a deal for Shalit's release that includes setting free convicted terrorist killers. The Palestinian beneficiaries of past prisoner exchanges have gone on to kill hundreds more Israelis. Netanyahu was reportedly meeting with members of his cabinet on Tuesday evening to make sure a majority of them vote in favor of the Shalit deal.
If it passes the Israeli cabinet, and if Hamas holds up its end of the bargain (the group is notorious for increasing demands at the last minute), Shalit could be home with his family by the weekend.
Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, have waged a tireless international campaign for his release and to put pressure on Hamas to let the Red Cross visit their son, which the terror group never did, in violation of international law.
Shalit was abducted and two fellow soldiers were killed by Hamas-aligned terrorists in a brash raid into southern Israel on June 25, 2006, when Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority was still in charge of Gaza. A year later, Hamas was voted into power and violently seized control of the coastal strip.