Gaza, ALRAY - October 18 marked the second anniversary of the first phase of th Egypt-mediated Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange deal signed between Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas and Israeli occupation.
Some 1047 Palestinian prisoners, from the Palestinian occupied territories and affiliated to different Palestinian factions, were pardoned under the deal.
On 11 October 2011, Hamas declared the deal with the Israeli occupation. The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu then described the exchange deal as a "difficult decision, while the spokesman for Hamas's military wing Al-Qassam Brigades Abu Obeida labeled the deal as "a historic achievement for the Palestinian resistance."
26 ministers voted in favor of it while three senior cabinet ministers including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected the deal.
Head of the Hamas political bureau Khaled Meshaal declared at that time that 1027 Palestinian prisoners are going to be released in exchange of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Meshaal also stated that 315 prisoners sentenced to life terms are included in the deal in addition to 27 Palestinian female captives.
The exchange deal includes two phases. The first phase will release 450 prisoners in addition to 27 female captives during a week, while 550 prisoners will be liberated in a second phase after a month, Meshaal continued.
On October 18, 2011 the Israeli authorities transferred the liberated prisoners from the Israeli prisons to Gaza and West Bank, while some of them were deported outside the occupied territories.
After a short period of time, al-Qassam Brigades handed the Israeli soldier to the Egyptian authorities. Israeli doctors conducted medical tests on him to make sure of his health condition.
Leaders in Hamas movement and Gaza government led by PM Ismail Haniyeh received the liberated prisoners at Rafah crossing, while PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas received the liberated prisoners sent to West Bank.
Meanwhile, Shalit was transferred in a military plane to Tel Nof base near "Tel Aviv", where he was received by Israeli senior officials headed by the Prime Minister Netanyahu before being transferred to his parents' house.
Nearly 40 liberated prisoners were deported from Cairo airport to Syria, Qatar and Turkey.
On December 15, the IPS has published a list containing 550 prisoners' names as part of the second phase of the exchange deal under Egyptian mediation.
On December 18, 550 Palestinian prisoners were released and transferred to West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Information Center contributed to the report.