19-Oct-11 World View — Israel Exchanges Gilad Shalit For 1,027 Palestinians

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

* Israel exchanges Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinians

* Greece facing nationwide general strike on Wednesday and Thursday

* Merkel says euro crisis is moving ‘millimeter by millimeter’

* Thailand’s troops race to protect Bangkok from floods

Israel Exchanges Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinians


Top: Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal embraces Palestinian inmates in Cairo (AP).  Bottom: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (Reuters)
Top: Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal embraces Palestinian inmates in Cairo (AP). Bottom: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (Reuters)

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas five years ago and has been held incommunicado in the Gaza Strip every since, was flown to his parents’ home in northern Israel on Tuesday. Hundreds of flag-waving well-wishers lined the streets of Shalit’s rural home town. Many danced as a ceremonial shofar horn was blown when he arrived at nightfall. At the same time, 477 Palestinians were freed from Israeli jails, the first of over 1027 Palestinians to be freed in the exchange deal, which had been mediated by Egypt. Over 250,000 Palestinians gather in Gaza City’s main square to celebrate the release of the Palestinian prisoners. Many of the released Palestinians had been jailed for committing terrorist acts. VOA and Ynet

The prisoner swap was a major change in policy for Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had opposed such prisoner swaps in the past. The change is attributed to a dramatic decline in violence between Israelis and Paletinians, brought about by three factors: the construction of a barrier separating Israel and the West Bank, improved intelligence on Palestinian militants, and, perhaps most significantly, closer cooperation between the Israeli Defense Forces and the Palestinian Authority’s security forces and police, which oppose a violent uprising and see Hamas as an enemy. CS Monitor

Greece Facing Nationwide General Strike on Wednesday and Thursday

Greece’s two biggest labor unions, covering public and private sector workers, have called for a general nationwide strike on Wednesday and Thursday, to protest the austerity measures that the parliament is voting on to comply with the requirements of an EU bailout. Government departments, businesses, offices and shops are all expected to be shut. Planes, trains, buses, taxis and lorries will not be operating. And for the first time, small business owners and shopkeepers are taking part. BBC

Merkel Says Euro Crisis Is Moving ‘Millimeter by Millimeter’

In an attempt to further reduce market expectations that the planned meeting for Sunday October 23 of the European finance ministers will actually accomplish anything, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said that officials from the 17-nation euro area are moving “millimeter by millimeter” on solving the crisis. “These sovereign debts have built up over decades, so they won’t be ended with one summit,” she said. Bloomberg

Thailand’s Troops Race to Protect Bangkok From Floods

Three months of heavy monsoon rains have damaged the homes and livelihoods of millions of people in Thailand, and forced tens of thousands to seek refuge in shelters. Currently about one third of Thailand’s provinces are affected by the floods, which reached several metres deep in places. Thai troops raced against time on Tuesday to pile more than a million sandbags onto floodwalls on the edge of Bangkok, to keep the nation’s capital from being flooded. But the authorities have failed to protect a number of major industrial parks from the gushing brown water, and Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra warned that the threat to the capital had not yet passed. Bangkok Post

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