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Israel set to free 550 prisoners to finalize swap deal with Hamas


09:52, December 15, 2011

JERUSALEM, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Israel Prison Service (IPS) on Wednesday evening announced a list of 550 Palestinian and Arab prisoners, who are slated to be released as the second phase of a prisoner-swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

"Pursuant to the Government of Israel's decision ... 550 prisoners will be released on Sunday," said an IPS statement.

After preliminary identification and medical checks, the prisoners will on Thursday night be escorted to two detention facilities, from where they will leave for West Bank and Gaza.

According to local Ynet news service, some 400 of them have already served two-thirds of their jail terms.

The release of these inmates is the second and final stage of a landmark swap deal, in which Israel sets free 1,027 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The first batch of 477 prisoners were released on Oct. 18, the same day Shalit returned home after being held by Hamas for over five years.

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