More than five ears after he was seized by Hamas militants, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may be on the verge of going home, and more than 1,000 Palestinian militants may be the price.
The deal could include a range of notorious prisoners including Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences in Israel for terrorist attacks, Ahmad Sadat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Ibrahim Hamed, former Hamas commander and plotter of the 2002 terror bombing at the Moment cafe in Jerusalem, Haaretz reported, citing Arab-language media.
Reports from Israel on Tuesday said the Israeli cabinet was finalizing a deal to exchange the prisoners for Shalit, 25, who was captured near the Keren Shalom Gaza crossing in June, 2006. Egypt reportedly was a broker in the deal. Shalit's release could happen as soon as the next few days, though some reports said it would be in early November.
The reports originated with Saudi Arabia's Al-Arabiya TV, and an Israeli government later confirmed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was discussing the matter with his cabinet.
The Israeli site YNet cited Jerusalem sources saying it was "very likely" the deal would be approved by the Knesset and said Shalit's father, Noam, had confirmed that he was notified of the deal.
Previous efforts to free Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas-associated gunmen in a 2006 cross-border raid, have been frustrated by Hamas demands that Israel release terrorists responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on Israel.
Germany and Egypt have been attempting to broker a deal.