After five years of fitful negotiations, Israel and Hamas announced on Tuesday that they've reached a tentative agreement brokered by Egypt to exchange more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the 25-year-old Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is thought to be held captive in the Gaza Strip. Here's what we know from various news reports about the dimensions of the deal (Hamas is expected to make the list of prisoners public later this evening):
Number of Prisoners: Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political chief of Hamas, told reporters in Syria today that Israel will free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, and most reports are putting the number at around 1,000. Surprised by the 1:1,000 ratio? Reuters has a history today of lopsided Israeli prisoner exchanges. The news agency also notes that there are currently around 6,000 Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails. That means around one-sixth of these inmates could be released as part of the Shalit deal.
Identity of Prisoners: There's debate about whether Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti--a lightning rod in negotiations who's serving five life terms for his role in killing Israeli civilians--will be among the released prisoners. While several Arab media outlets and Palestinian officials announced that he would be, Ynet explains, Israeli officials are denying the reports. Time's Tony Karon notes that the deal "will include as many as 315 men convicted of killing hundreds of Israelis in terror attacks, to whose release the Israelis had strenuously objected in the past." Meshaal explained today that 27 of the prisoners will be women, and Ynet adds that they will include Amina Mona, who, in the words of the right-leaning Israeli newspaper, "lured a lovesick Israeli teenage boy to a Palestinian city over the Internet, only to have him killed by waiting militants." Reuters points out that determining which prisoners are released might prove complicated even after the list is released. "Under Israeli law, opponents of [the released prisoners] have at least 48 hours to appeal to courts to keep them behind bars," the news agency explains.
The Jerusalem Post notes several other Barghouti-like "symbols" who are apparently not on the list: "Abdullah Barghouti, the senior Hamas engineer in Gaza responsible for dozens of murders, Ibrahim Hamed, the head of Hamas' military wing in the West Bank and Ahmed Sa'adat head of the Popular Front who was responsible for the assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi."
Timing and logistics: Meshaal announced a two-phase approach in which 450 prisoners will be released "in one week" and another 550 "in two months." Ynet says the first batch will be released at the same time that Shalit is released into Egyptian custody, and the second batch will be set free once Shalit returns to Israel. It adds that it's still unclear whether the Palestinian prisoners will be permitted to return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip--a roadblock in past negotiations.