WashingtonPost.com:  Tel Nof Air Force Base, Israel - Militant Palestinian group released captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit Tuesday morning to the Egyptian government, Israeli and Egyptian media reported, the first and crucial step of a prisoner swap that includes the release of 1,027 prisoners in Israeli jails.  Shalit, who had been held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is expected to be turned over to Israeli officials shortly and will be flown to this air base, where his relatives are waiting.  While Israeli officials made plans for a subdued homecoming ceremony for the 25-year-old soldier, whose abduction has engrossed Israelis for years, Hamas leaders were planning a big reception for the first group of 477 prisoners Israel has agreed to release in exchange for Shalit.  Shalit's father, Noam, appeared Monday before the Israeli Supreme Court, where he came face to face with relatives of victims of terrorist attacks who oppose the deal.  Several relatives filed motions urging the court to annul the deal, and according to Israeli new reports, some angrily confronted the soldier's father.  Noam Shalit submitted a written response to the objections, arguing that the swap should be carried out.  The court has refrained from stopping similar deals in the past and there was no sign that it intended to delay or stop Tuesday's.  The Israeli Defense Ministry said Monday that Shalit will undergo a medical checkup in Egypt and will be greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials when he arrives at this air base.  Officials said they would guard Shalit's privacy zealously.  A corporal when abducted, Shalit was promoted twice while in custody, and again to Sergeant Major on the eve of his release.  Once officials have custody of Shalit, they will give the green light for prison authorities to transport the 477 prisoners in the first of two groups to Gaza, the West Bank and a few other locations.  Hamas leaders have billed the swap as a failure for Israel and have said it will embolden the movement's will to end what it calls the occupation of Palestinian land.  Israeli leaders have said they reached the best possible deal for the release of a soldier whose 2006 kidnapping near Gaza triggered an outpouring of support in Israel.

Commentary:  Any one of us should be quickly ready to say that we can place ourselves in the shoes of Gilad Shalit and his parents and that we too would be ready to swap a million prisoners for this invaluable young man.  Gilad's life and liberty, freedom from torture before the eyes of the whole world, is worth so very much more than the vengeance of other parents, who in fact would want the very same if their children were not deceased, but in the place of Gilad Shalit.  Bravo for Israel and all of those responsible for doing the right thing!  Hamas is a cowardly lying bunch of terrorists, who will one day, in the not too far off future, pay the ultimate price under God's own hand for the mayhem they have ravaged on the Jews and, not only the Jews, but other innocent peoples.  God is a just God!  "Howl, O gate; cry O city, all of Palestine, you are dissolved, for smoke will come from the north and no one will be alone in his appointed time" Isaiah 14:31.  Yes, the day of dreadful, fiery judgment is awaiting the Palestinians; God said it a long time ago.