Palestinians celebrate the release of prisoners in Ramallah. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills).
For more photos of Palestinains welcoming the released prisoners home check out the Activestills Flickr page.
Also, Noa Yachot and Dimi Reider are live blogging Gilad Shalit's return to Israel for 972. Some recent highlights:
14:06 Meanwhile, it seems some families have decided to take matters into their own hands. The family of Shlomo Libman, killed near the settlement of Yitzhar in 1998, say they will pay $100,000 to anyone willing to assassinate Libman’s killers, released today as part of the prisoner swap. One of the killers has been deported to Gaza, the other will be deported to Turkey; the announcements were released in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Turkish.
13:43 Schalit is spending time with his family at the Tel Nof military base. They are soon to board a helicopter that will take them home. It’s unclear whether Schalit or his father Noam will speak to the press; we also know that the two main television channels, Channel Two and Channel Ten have signed an agreement promising to respect the family’s privacy and not try and scoop each other out for interviews once Schalit has reached home.
Earlier, Schalit was met by the IDF Chief of Staff, who saluted him, and by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reportedly led him to his parents and said “I brought your boy back.” Netanyahu then addressed the media, stressing his empathy with the families of the victims of Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Shalit. He also attempted to resurrect trust between citizens and state, saying that when he served as a soldier himself, he always knew the state would bring him back if he was to be captured.
13:00 Channel 2: Schalit reaches Tel Nof base, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him, “Bless your return to Israel, it’s so good to have you home,” before he reunited with his parents. Crowds of press and army folks are waiting outside the base. A stage is set up for a small press conference, with about three seats, a podium and a fighter plane (?) on the lawn behind it
12:48 IDF releases video of Schalit’s first encounter with IDF (Hebrew text at start of clip reads: “Tuesday, 18.10.11: Sergeant Major Gilad Shalit in first meeting with IDF officials”)
12:31 IDF has Schalit change into IDF uniform before flying to meet his parents, thereby militarizing what until now photographed as a legitimately emotional story. To quote Dahlia Scheindlin, “What a totally justified reason for delaying his reunion with his parents – so he can change into the uniform that symbolized the reason why he was kidnapped in the first place.”