Pursuant to the Government of Israel's October 2011 decision to approve the Gilad Shalit Exchange Deal, 550 prisoners were released on December 18, 2011, in the second stage of the exchange agreement. 477 prisoners were released in October 2011 in the first stage, immediately following the release of Shalit.
Out of the 550 set free, all were returned to the West Bank through the Betunia crossing except for 41 prisoners transferred to Gaza and 2 through the Allenby Crossing into Jordan. Two other prisoners were returned to their homes in East Jerusalem.
Defense officials noted that about 400 of the prisoners had already completed two-thirds of their respective sentences and that none were defined as having "blood on their hands." None of the 550 prisoners released in the second stage were serving life sentences.