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Israel frees 20 women prisoners

In exchange for a video showing a soldier captured in Gaza three years ago is still alive, Israel has agreed to free 20 Palestinian women.

Israel is to free 20 Palestinian women prisoners in exchange for a video of the soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured in Gaza in June 2006, the prime minister's office said on Wednesday. "The Israeli security cabinet decided to authorise the release of 20 Palestinian women detainees and prisoners," it said in a statement. "Israel will receive updated and clear proof on the health and condition of Gilad Shalit. This proof of life will be handed to Israel by the mediators in the form of a videotape that has recently been filmed."

The deal had been proposed by Egyptians and Germans mediating between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza, senior officials said. The armed wing of Hamas confirmed the deal, saying: "The Palestinian prisoners will be released within days." The prisoners to be released include four from Hamas, three from Islamic Jihad and three from Fatah, the Ezzedine al Qassam Brigades said. * AFP

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