Israel will release 20 Palestinian women in exchange for information from Hamas on the condition of a captured Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian security source, Hamas and the Israeli government said on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, Egyptian and German mediators would continue to work on a deal to exchange the soldier, Gilad Shalit, for 1000 Palestinian detainees Hamas has been demanding.
In the meantime, Israel would receive proof Shalit was alive and details about his condition. A source close to the on-going contacts said he expected the women prisoners and the information on Shalit to be exchanged on Friday.
Israel would receive in exchange a one-minute videotape of Shalit, a source in Gaza Strip told Reuters.
A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office confirmed Israel had decided to release the women, calling it a confidence-building gesture before critical stages in negotiations for Shalit's release. "According to the proposal by mediators, Israel will receive updated and unequivocal proof of Gilad Shalit's condition," the statement read.
A spokesman for Hamas' military wing, Abu Mujahed, told a news conference in Gaza that 19 of the women to be freed were from the West Bank and the 20th, who was from Gaza, would be released along with her child.