Buses carrying released Palestinian prisoners have entered the Gaza Strip, after Gaza’s Hamas rulers freed an Israeli soldier held captive for more than five years.

In all, 477 Palestinian prisoners were being freed by Israel on Tuesday, in the first stage of the most lopsided prisoner swap in Israel’s history. An additional 550 Palestinian prisoners are to be freed in two months for Sgt. Gilad Schalit.

The first buses transporting released prisoners to Gaza crossed the border from Egypt just moments after Schalit arrived in Israel.

In an interview with an Egyptian TV station, Schalit says he was told about a week ago that he was being freed. He says he feared he would remain in captivity for “many more years.”

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