The exchange of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Oct. 2011 is the latest in a long history of prisoner swaps between Israel and its Arab neighbours, many of them highly controversial.
Shalit's capture, in fact, was part of a 2006 attempt by the militant group Hamas to swap him for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Instead it sparked a nearly two-year crackdown by Israel in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
July 2008, Lebanese militant Samir Kantar and four Hezbollah prisoners, along with the bodies of a dozen or so Hezbollah fighters, were exchanged for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, captured in the raid that touched off a 34-day war with Lebanon-based Hezbollah in 2006.
The deal was particularly contentious within Israel as Kantar was a convicted killer who had been in an Israeli jail for almost 30 years for an especially brutal cross-border attack that led to the deaths of an Israeli man and his two daughters.
Other notable swaps:
- June 2008, Israel released Nissim Nasser, an Israeli citizen of Lebanese descent who had been convicted of spying for Hezbollah, in exchange for the remains of a number of Israeli soldiers.
- 2004, in a deal with Lebanon and Hezbollah, Israel released 436 Arab prisoners and the bodies of 59 Lebanese fighters in exchange for a captured Israeli businessman (a colonel in the reserves) and the bodies of three soldiers.
- 1991, 51 Arab prisoners were released in exchange for information on an Israeli soldier who died in Lebanon.
- 1985, 1,150 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for three Israeli captives.
- 1983, 4,600 Arab prisoners were released in exchange for six Israeli soldiers.
The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Israel went to war with Lebanon in 2006. The conflict was actually between Israeli forces and the Lebanon-based Shiite group Hezbollah.Nov 04, 2011 11:20 AM ET