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NEWS STREAM

Israel Swaps 1,000 Palestinian Prisoners for Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit; Outrage Over Hit-and-Run in China; Thai Floods; Gilad Shalit Reunites With Family; Drivers Question Indycar Decision Surrounding Las Vegas Race

Aired October 18, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

And we begin with breaking news, the historic exchange of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for this Israeli soldier.

Gilad Shalit is back on Israeli soil and back in uniform after being held by Hamas since 2006, while Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has given a warm welcome to prisoners previously held in Israeli jails.

All those angles on the story and more this hour.

One historic day, two bitter enemies, and over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners traded for a single Israeli soldier. We are witnessing history unfold in Israel, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank. For the first time since Hamas militants captured him in 2006, Israeli Sergeant Gilad Shalit is enjoying freedom.

Here we see him after he crossed into Egypt from Gaza, where he had been held captive. And for the first time since he was abducted, he is speaking out, appearing pale and thin. Shalit talked with Egyptian TV a short time before he arrived in Israel for a medical exam and a long-awaited reunion with his family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GILAD SHALIT, FREED ISRAELI SOLDIER (through translator): Yes, they were long years, but I believed that the day would come when I found myself outside captivity, but after many long years. I hope that this deal will help to achieve peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, and this will support the cooperation between the two sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: In exchange for Hamas releasing Gilad Shalit, Israel is freeing 477 Palestinian prisoners today, and another 550 inmates are expected to go free within two months. Now, some had been behind bars for decades, and huge crowds erupted in joy when the former prisoners stepped off buses in Gaza. Also welcoming them, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and the long-time negotiator of the separate stalled peace talks with Israel said he is hopeful today marks a turning point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: You know, after 25 years of her son in jail, it's really an overwhelming feeling of humanity today. And let it be this way. Let's be this way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Israel's supreme court rejected an appeal by the families of terror victims to block the Palestinian prisoner release. Now, the Israeli government acknowledges the massive prisoner swap is controversial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: We think we've achieved in this arrangement -- and you talked about before, a moment ago the restrictions that will be replaced on released prisoners -- that we are minimizing the risk to Israeli citizens, we are minimizing the risk of terrorist attacks by these people released against Israeli civilians. And I hope we've found here the right balance. But it is a complex decision and a difficult decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, let's map out the complicated choreography in today's release of Gilad Shalit and of the Palestinian prisoners.

Early on Tuesday, Shalit was taken from Gaza, where he was held captive, to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Egyptian and Israeli officials escorted him to the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Egypt, where he underwent a medical exam. And from there, he was flown by helicopter to an airbase in central Israel, where he finally is reuniting with his family.

Now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also greeted him there. And then a helicopter fly Shalit and his family home to northern Israel, to what is sure to be a joyous welcome.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinian inmates, they were bused from prisons in southern and central Israel to the West Bank and to Rafah, in Gaza, where they have been getting their own joyous welcome.

Matthew Chance is in Rafah, where hundreds of Palestinian families turned out to welcome home loved ones they had not seen in years.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's extremely emotional. I've had to use my telephone to hear you because it's so loud here.

But we're seeing all these prisoners, freed prisoners now, getting off the buses, being greeted by their family members. This man here is just embracing here his old friend. He's been in an Israeli jail -- excuse me, madam -- he's been in an Israeli jail for 19 years.

He's 42 years old now, so obviously he's spent most of his adult life behind bars in Israel. He hasn't gotten married, he hasn't got any children. But he's just now starting to pick up the pieces of his life.

And just over here you can see more of the prisoners that have been freed being brought by these buses into the site of the Gaza Strip, into the Rafah terminal, where they're being met by all of their family members that have been brought here by Hamas to give them a first initial welcome before they move on to the much more public parade in Gaza City later on today, where we're expecting, as I mentioned, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people to attend that mass parade in the center of Gaza. But, for the moment, as you can see here, another example, people who have been in prison for so long, the emotion of it all, being reunited with their families. You can see some men here greeting somebody who was presumably a comrade in arms with him.

Very emotional scenes, not the kind of scenes many people in Israel will want to see, of course. But, nevertheless, this is the overriding sentiment here in the Palestinian territories. Many people see these individuals who have spent so many years behind bars, (INAUDIBLE) heroes, a hero's welcome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: High emotion there in Gaza.

And Matthew Chance is also covering the prisoner exchange live on Twitter, bringing you a first-hand account of events from the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Now, earlier, as Palestinian prisoners returned home, he tweeted this: "According to Palestinian medics, 10 released prisoners fainted on being reunited with families."

And for the latest, you can follow Matthew at MChanceCNN.

Now, huge crowds also filled the streets in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas greeted released prisoners, embracing many of them. He also called on Israel to release other jailed Palestinians who have not been included in the prisoner swap so far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABBAS (through translator): We shall see soon here, in this place, our brother Marwan Barghuti (ph), our brother Ahmed Sadeh (ph) of the PFNP (ph), whom we extend our wishes for a speedy recovery. And we also want to see Ibrahim Hamed (ph), Abbas Asayed (ph), and every prisoner, male and female prisoners. We would like to see them turning back home free to their home and families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: At the Tel Nof Air Base outside Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the return of Gilad Shalit. While Mr. Netanyahu acknowledged the decision to carry out the prisoner swap had been a difficult one, he also said it was necessary to bring an Israeli soldier home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Friends of Israel, on this day we are all united in joy and pain. Two-and-a-half years ago, I returned to my position as prime minister. One of the missions, central missions and complicated missions that I found on my table, on my desk, which I put on the top of my heart, was to retrieve and bring back our kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, safe and sound back home.

Today, this mission has been accomplished.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, these are the first pictures of Gilad Shalit that the world has seen in years. He was only 19 years old when a group of Palestinian militants tunneled into Israel, attacked his army outpost, and took him hostage.

That was in 2006. And we want to show you the visible toll that captivity can take on a person.

Now, this is a photo that Shalit's family released around the time of his capture. He looks happy and healthy, with a big grin on his face, as he stands proudly in his Israeli army uniform.

And this image was taken only three years later. Until today, it was the last time the world had seen him. He looks visibly older and tired, hunched over a table in a nondescript room, with dark circles under his eyes.

Now, Frederik Pleitgen is in Gilad Shalit's hometown in northern Israel, and Fred joins us now live.

And how are people there preparing for the return of Gilad Shalit?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie.

Well, they've been preparing for the past couple of days. And I can tell you that people here in Mitzpe Hila, but not only here in this very, very small town -- it's really more a village than a town, if you will -- but also in the outlining districts here around this place have been preparing. They're absolutely elated that all of this has now happened.

When the news came through that Gilad Shalit had in fact been confirmed to have left Gaza, had gone into Egypt, and then into Israel, people here starting yelling. They started embracing each other, very, very happy, joyous scenes.

Now what's going on is they're preparing the scene for Gilad Shalit's arrival. Of course, you already said what is going to happen here is that he's going to be airlifted from that base, from Tel Nof, in central Israel, to here, to Mitzpe Hila, and he will arrive here, we think, in the next couple of hours.

So they've already laid down white roses in the street in front of Gilad Shalit's home, which is cordoned off. The media is not allowed to go there, although it's only about 100, maybe 150 meters down in the direction behind me. They've also put up signs saying, "Welcome home. It's so nice that you are coming home."

This has been going on since the early morning hours, and really in the past couple of days. So the people here are very elated, very happy.

Of course, a lot of them also say they understand the controversy that has been going on here in Israel about whether or not the price that's being paid for Gilad Shalit's release was too high politically, of course, as well as in security terms. However, they say, at the end of the day, they are very happy to have a young man from their midst, from their area, and, of course, for some of them, from their family, back amongst them -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, Gilad Shalit has already been reunited with his family, but when they touch down, when they return home, what happens next? Have they made any plans?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's a very good question, because that has also been a topic of great debate here.

One of the things that we don't believe is that we are going to see a lot of the Shalits in the upcoming weeks, because one of the things that they said is that, after this very long period in custody, which, of course, also involves a lot of psychological trauma, people here believe and certainly psychologists believe that Gilad Shalit will need some time out of the public sphere. So it appears as though we're not going to be seeing very much of them. There is going to be very little media coverage of them.

Certainly when you look at the past couple of years and you see how prominent Noam Shalit, Aviva Shalit have been here in Israel, starting, of course, a campaign to keep their son from being forgotten, to pressure the Israeli government into doing more to get their son released, you're going to see the exact opposite of that, is the belief here. You're going to see them be more secluded. The media, also not haunting them as much as they will be on this day, of course, that they're being released. But it certainly appears as though the plan is for them to lay low for a while and try and get Gilad Shalit back integrated into a normal life and into the society -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Frederik Pleitgen, joining us live.

Thank you very much indeed.

And some of the prisoners freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit are convicted killers and militants.

Now, Yehia Al-Sinwar, he helped found the military wing of Hamas. He is perhaps the most senior figure being released. After spending the last 23 years behind bars, he heads home to Gaza.

And Walid Anajas was convicted of involvement in the 2002 bombing of a Jerusalem coffee shop. He was serving 36 life sentences. That's the longest of any prisoner being released. And he is being deported.

And Abd al-Aziz Salehi is said to be the young man in this photo. He's holding up his bloody hands at a Palestinian police station. Two Israeli soldiers were killed by a large crowd there.

And Ahlam Tamimi was serving 16 life sentences for being an accomplice in the 2001 bombing of a Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem. Now, the attack killed at least 15 people, and he is now returning home to Jordan.

And Amna Muna was convicted of lowering this couple's teenage son to his death. Now, she reportedly convinced him to travel to the West Bank by posing as an American tourist in an online chat room.

So why would Israel agree to release more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for one young soldier? That's one of the stories you'll find on CNN.com. And we will also be going live to Jerusalem and Cairo for analysis a bit later in the newscast.

Now, you are watching NEWS STREAM. And among the other stories we're following this hour, more reaction to what can only be described as a horrific event, this arresting image of a Chinese toddler who gets run over while bystanders walk by and do nothing.

And flooding in Thailand. We will have an update on what people have to deal with and tell you just how they are coping.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

And since we first reported this story last night, the strong reaction we have seen on China's Sina Weibo has not abated. Now, netizens both in and outside the southern Chinese city of Foshan are wondering just how a 2- year-old girl there could be run over not once, but twice, as one person after another passes her by.

With the girl now clinging to life in a hospital, Eunice Yoon takes a look at the controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A security camera in southern China captured 2-year-old Wang Yue wandering into the alley outside her father's hardware store, but what happens next is too disturbing to show you. A white van barrels into the toddler, running her over not once, but twice. A few minutes later, a truck approaches and drives over her motionless body.

The video outraged the public when it hit the Internet here. Equally shocking to citizens, the reaction of passersby -- pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, more than a dozen of them who didn't stop to help.

Millions are weighing in on what they see as a decline of morality on Weibo, China's version of Twitter. This user writes, "We once believed in a world filled with love and were taught by the government on maintaining high moral standards -- but the cold reality just keeps flying in the face of our belief."

Some observers argue the country's education system has failed to cultivate a respect for human life, as 1.3 billion people compete to climb up the economic and social ladder.

(on camera): There have also been several cases recently of elderly people who have collapsed or injured themselves in public places, who later sue the people who try to help them. So many people in China are concerned that they can get into trouble themselves for being a good Samaritan.

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: This is sort of classic bystander effect, if you will, where people sort of have a diffusion of responsibility. They think, do I have to stop? There are other people who might see this.

But secondly, they were going places. this was Rush hour. Studies showing that when people hurry and they're having to meet a deadline, they are less empathetic, less compassionate, less more likely to stop.

YOON: After 10 minutes, someone did stop, a 58-year-old woman who collects trash for a living. She moved Wang to safety.

"I didn't understand why no one else had carried her from the street," she says. Wang's mother expressed her gratitude for the scavenger's kindness. Both drivers have since been detained, and the little girl is now in hospital, where she remains in critical condition.

Eunice Yoon, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, Eunice showed us that emotional scene of Yueyue's parents kneeling before her rescuer. In many Asian cultures, kneeling with your forehead to the ground is a sign of extreme deference.

And you can see Chen Xianmei. She looks just a little bit uncomfortable by the attention and tries to get the couple to stand up. And she's actually come under criticism in China, accused by some of being a fame seeker. But Yueyue's mother says that she believes Chen was showing the goodness in human nature.

And "The China Daily" is reporting that Chen has been rewarded by government officials for her good deed. She has been given 10,000 yen. That's nearly $1,600. And Chen has been quoted as saying, "The most important thing is to save a life," and she was just a little child.

Well, thousands of Chinese netizens are using the hashtag "Please End the Indifference" to raise awareness online, and the story has been the most popular topic on Sina Weibo -- that's China's equivalent of Twitter -- since Monday afternoon.

And one user, LiuYuHanBlue, reflected on what had caused this tragedy, saying, "Look at what happened to good Samaritans before: our citizens are too scared to practice conscience. this is our nation's heartbreak."

And another user has weighed in on how to stop the widespread hesitancy in offering a helping hand. Now, LiangYuanMingYue says, "In order to end the indifference, we must first end the fraud against good Samaritans through media reports, legal protection and social uproar!"

Now, netizens are also condemning the driver who told local reporters that if Yueyue survived the accident, it would cost him significantly more money than if she did not. Now, @ColaRing3 weighs in, says, "I only want to ask him this: what if she was your daughter?"

Many are also posting their reactions on our NEWS STREAM blog, and one user who is living in China weighs in that, "This type of carelessness is very common in larger cities, where any concern for others has been lost as people get more consumed in their materialism."

And if you want to have your say, just click onto the NEWS STREAM blog, and there you can find reaction to this story from China and around the world. Just go to CNN.com/newstream.

And ahead on NEWS STREAM, a monumental day for Israel and Hamas. As our coverage of the prisoner exchange continues, we'll look at the significance of today's events and the vital role Egypt played.

And building up defenses. Residents of Bangkok are hoping flood barriers continue to hold. But what measures are being taken to protect the Thai capital?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now, authorities in Thailand are trying to ease fears that record floods will inundate the capital. They say that the defenses are holding around Bangkok and a massive effort is under way to protect an industrial park north of the city.

John Irvine reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN IRVINE, REPORTER, ITV NEWS (voice-over): It's known as the "River of Kings," and in Bangkok, it's higher than it's ever been. But while the Chao Phraya has been breaking records, it hasn't been breaking its banks, not in the Thai capital, at least. But what about elsewhere?

We were heading upstream to see what the river had wrought in the more rural districts that have borne the brunt of this crisis. Not far from Bangkok, and the river has no visible banks. It's taken over as far as the eye can see.

Further on, and this is what passes for two-way traffic in the historic city of Ayutthaya. Its ancient temples make this place a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was the capital of Siam. It's now the capital of Thailand's vast flood zone.

(on camera): This is the heart of the water world that central Thailand became about two weeks ago. It's anyone's guess how much longer it will be like this. It's at least 50 miles in every direction to dry land.

(voice-over): Many of the victims of the flood have sought refuge here because the authorities are now present in force. We were on a raft delivering food and water. Its arrival was always eagerly anticipated.

Later, the police chief explained that for everyone, the flood came as a total shock. Neither his force nor anybody else saw it coming, and when it did, it was too late.

(on camera): It came in two hours?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hours.

IRVINE (voice-over): An estimated 2.5 million people have been affected. Many lives are now on hold until the waters recede.

In one small town, I asked an enterprising shop owner how people were coping. She said she was sold out of alcohol and cigarettes.

If they could get to their temples to pray for this to be over, they would. But in a sense, it's the heavens that are prolonging their misery, for they keep opening.

John Irvine, ITV news, Thailand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, ahead on NEWS STREAM, finally free. After more than five years in captivity, Gilad Shalit is reunited with his family. His next stop, his hometown.

We will have the very latest on his release and the reaction in Israel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

You're watching NEWS STREAM.

And we are monitoring all the latest details in the historic exchange of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the single Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. We'll get analysis from Jerusalem and the Egyptian border in a moment, but first here are the other headlines this hour.

Now female protesters in Yemen are demanding the United Nations launch an investigation into the unrest in their country. Thousands demonstrated on Monday in front of the foreign ministry in Sanaa. Protests came one day after activists say the first woman was killed in anti-government demonstrations.

Now heavy rain and mudslides have killed 60 people across Central America, and 28 of those deaths came in Guatemala, the rest were in El Salvadore where the government has declared a state of emergency. Now bad weather has been lashing Central America for Days. Forecasters say more rain is on the way.

Athens is in the midst of more austerity protests. Greek dock workers and civil servants walked off the job on Monday. The country's two main unions are planning a massive two day strike beginning on Wednesday. Now this coincides with a parliamentary vote on more public sector job and spending cuts which Greece needs in order to secure more bailout funds.

And let's update you now on our top story the release of Israeli soldier of Gilad Shalit in exchange of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Just a short time ago, Shalit was reunited with his family, seeing them in person for the first time since he was captured by Hamas militants in 2006. And also getting a joyous welcome, hundreds of newly freed Palestinian prisoners who were bused from Israeli jails to Gaza and the West Bank. Egypt helped negotiate their release with Hamas.

In his first public appearance in half a decade, Shalit appeared pale and drawn, but remarkably calm and composed. Israeli medical officials say he is in good and satisfactory condition.

Now this prisoner swap is a major deal for a number of reasons. And to help explain the significance Kevin Flower joins us now from CNN Jerusalem. And Kevin, first explain the rate of exchange a single Israeli soldier give up for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Why did Israel agree to this?

KEVIN FLOWER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at first glance, the asymmetrical nature of this deal is quite striking, but it's worth noting that it's not without precedent. The Israeli government in many instances before has traded huge numbers of prisoners, Palestinians and otherwise, for relatively small numbers of Israelis, sometimes not even live Israelis, sometimes the remains of Israelis. So it's a deal that has a precedent.

But it's an interesting deal at this time. This particular prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has sort of built his reputation on being a tough talking, you know, prime minister, who does not covet dealing with terrorist or terrorism. And basically what he has done in accepting this deal last week has taken 180 degree turn from the rhetoric of his from the past. He opposed lots of these similar deals in the past.

But what he said in trying to sell this deal was that ultimately the regional calculus had changed. And that because of changes in the Middle East, the Arab Spring et cetera, that this was probably the best deal that Israel was going to get. And he said in a press conference today that it was also as prime minister his responsibility to look after the welfare of Israeli soldiers who are conscripted into the army here and that, you know, that responsibility was paramount over the responsibility of security, which a lot of people are worried about here in face of so many prisoners being released who were convicted for violent crimes, Kristie.

STOUT: Kevin, you talked about the nature of the deal and the timing. Let's talk about Egypt next. Why did Israel agree to a prisoner exchange deal brokered by Egypt? Is it angling for perhaps a peace deal with Cairo?

FLOWER: I think historically there are a number of reasons. Egypt even before the -- it's revolution, under the government of Hosni Mubarak, was intimately involved in the negotiations to try and free Gilad Shalit for a large number of Palestinian prisoners. Once Mubarak went away, those efforts continued. And it seemed -- in some sense -- some people see Israel's launching into this deal with Egyptian mediation as a way for Israel to sort of say try and make good with Egypt, if you will, relations have been soured over a number of issues, over some border incidents in which some Egyptian soldiers were killed and also the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo. This is seen as a vote of confidence by many for Egypt by Israel.

It's also -- point of fact, an issue for the Israeli government. Like I said, they just very much thought this was the time to make the deal and that a future Egyptian government that will come after elections that are scheduled later this year that this is a deal that perhaps couldn't be made with a future government, Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Kevin Flower joining us live from Jerusalem, thank you.

Now Israel has exchanged prisoners with its neighbor several times before, though this release is the biggest in recent memory.

Now overall, Israel has released about 7,000 Arab prisoners over the last 30 years. This, in exchange for 19 living Israelis in the bodies of eight prisoners.

Now, in 1985 now three Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon were released, but only after Israel freed 1,150 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

And then in June of 1998, Israel and the South Lebanese Army released 65 prisoners and the remains of 40 Hezbollah guerillas for the return of the body of an Israeli soldier killed in combat.

And in 2004, an Israeli businessman was released along with the remains of three soldiers. In return, Israel freed 436 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners.

Now Egypt played a key role in the Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap serving not only as a mediator in negotiations, but also as neutral ground for the hand-overs themselves.

Now this marks the first big diplomatic coup for Egypt's interim military government and it shows improving relations with Israel after a tense couple of months.

You may remember hundreds of Egyptian protesters stormed and trashed Israel's embassy in Cairo last month in retaliation of Egypt's killing of five Egyptian border guards in August. And here you can see them celebrating as they tear down a wall outside the embassy.

Now Israel later apologized for the killing of the border guards. And said it plans to uphold the peace treaty it signed with Egypt in 1979.

And for more on their developing relationship and Egypt's role in the recent Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap Ian Lee joins us now from Egypt near the Gaza border.

And Ian, how critical a role did Egypt play in this prisoner exchange?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Well, Kristie, Egypt played a crucial role in the exchange. This wouldn't have happened without Egypt mediating between Israel and Hamas.

And I want to point out something that Kevin talked about a little bit, that Gilad Shalit has been Hamas custody for over five years, but it wasn't until recently, until after the revolution, where the negotiations happened that he was released.

Now you have, as you said earlier, you had the Israeli embassy stormed by Egyptians. You also had Egyptians soldiers killed by Israeli soldiers on the border. And I think that this deal that we see right now shows the relationships are still good between Israel and Egypt -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now did the Arab Spring make this mediating role possible? And has it increased the perceived value of Cairo in the eyes of both Hamas and Fatah?

LEE: Oh definitely. Egypt was seen as an American stooge before under former President Hosni Mubarak. But now Egypt is seen more as a neutral player in the region. And I think that increases its credibility, its credentials amongst Hamas and Fatah. And you're definitely going to see, you know, better negotiations, more likely between Hamas and Israel with a more neutral Egypt.

President -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): We should also salute beloved Egypt for all the efforts it did, and others, to complete the Palestinian national reconciliation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: You can just hear the president saying, you know, how Egypt is - - has increased its clout in the region. I think that is something that we will see more of in the years to come -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Ian Lee joining us live. Thank you very much for that.

Now it took years to negotiate this deal. Hamas wanted high profile prisoners such as Ahmed Saadat among those released. Now Saadat lead the popular front for the liberation of Palestine. He allegedly ordered the 2001 assassination of Israel's tourism minister.

Now the Palestinian lawmaker, Marwan Barghouti was considered the most important prisoner who might have been released in exchange for Shalit. He is serving five life sentences for murder and other charges related tot he second intifada.

And there's also been criticism that no minors were released. Now children under the age of 18 are frequently detained for offenses like rock throwing. An activist group reports that more than 160 Palestinian youths are in Israeli jails.

And we will continue to update you on the day's historic prisoner exchange. Plus, the latest from New Zealand where rough seas are making it harder to contain an oil leak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, India's (inaudible) district in the state of Uttar Pradesh is dealing with a deadly outbreak of encephalitis. It is an inflammation of the brain usually brought on by mosquito bite or contaminated food or drinks. Doctors say that they are currently diagnosing between 30 and 35 cases a day. At least 435 people have died this year, and most of them were children.

Now officials with the Tokyo Electric Power Company say that they may be able to shut down Fukushima's damaged nuclear reactors a month ahead of schedule. Now the company says its engineers have cut down the amount of contaminated water in the reactors turbine plants. Now this helped to keep temperatures stable at below 100 degree Celsius. And if the revised schedule holds, the cold shutdown will take place by the end of the year. Now seven months have passed since Japan's earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown.

Now strong winds and swells have stopped all salvage work on the container ship that remains stuck on a reef in New Zealand. Now the agency in charge of the salvage operations says that Rena's internal structure is holding it together, but you can see it is visibly cracked. And when you get a more close-up look, check that out, you just get a sense of how the containers still on board the ship are weighing down on its deck. Experts say it is only a matter of time before it simply breaks apart.

Now the bad weather has also scaled back the clean-up as more oil leaked on Tuesday morning. And the wildlife teams, they have recovered about 1,300 dead birds since The Rena ran aground earlier this month. Take a look at these little blue penguins. Prime Minister John Key, he checked on their recovery earlier today.

Our Mari Ramos is also keeping an eye on the situation there. And she joins us live from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. So much going on with the ship. It's been going on for such a long time already.

I wanted to show you this image here from Google Earth. We've gone ahead and mapped out this area here in red in the Bay of Plenty. You can see it right over here. This is where that ship is stranded. And the area in red actually highlights the exclusion zone. They're telling boaters that they cannot go in this area at all, this is an area that has been mapped out only for those vessels and for those containers that are actually helping with the clean-up effort and with the recovery effort of that stricken ship.

So it's an area about 1,800 kilometers across. And it's about the size of metropolitan area of Sydney even. So it is a pretty large area that they have there in the exclusion zone.

I know you showed this picture just a little while ago, but I wanted to show it to you one more time. This is the bow of the ship. And it's actually sitting on the reef. So the rest of the ship is moving back and forth. And it goes up and down depending on what the swell, what the seas are doing. So that's the concern, because one area is anchored down and the rest of it isn't. That's why they're afraid that it could actually break up.

Maritime New Zealand says 80 containers have fallen overboard. And they've accounted for more than half of those and either attached buoys to them to keep them afloat. And some of them have even washed up on the shoreline. So there are many, many more. And they're calling this a critical phase in the operation, Kristie. Critical because they're afraid that more of these containers are actually going to fall overboard. As we get these seas that are going to be two to four meters like what they had during the day earlier today and what they're expecting to have over night tonight and as we head into tomorrow.

They're also concerned that the ship might actually begin breaking up. Those cracks that you showed us along the side of the ship are also something that they're looking at very, very closely. They said that they have the crews ready to respond, but they have to take any kind of crews and stop the operations completely, not just on the vessel, but also on the beach until the weather improves.

And that's not going to happen any time soon. We have an area of low pressure right here. You can see it coming in, bringing in that cold air from the south. It's going to continue like this -- this is the location of where the ship is. That area of low pressure will continue moving through this area through Wednesday. So seas, two to four meters like we were saying, are not out of the question across this region and winds that could be up to 60, maybe even more, kilometers per hour.

Go ahead and move on. I very quickly want to update you on the situation in Central America. What you're looking at here, the areas in red are the areas of high rainfall. We have one area here near the Yucatan Peninsula, that's where that area of low pressure is located, the one that could become a tropical cyclone.

But of course as we head here to the coastal regions. Look at this, near El Salvadore, near Honduras, we're still seeing significant amounts of rain over this area. This is going to continue. We'll be talking more about this story as the day goes on.

Kristie, back to you.

STOUT: All right. Mari Ramos, thank you.

Now we have uncovered countless stories of modern-day slavery through the CNN Freedom Project. And this weekend we're airing a special documentary that shows how widespread it is. In Not My Life, we meet victims across five continents. And one of them is Angie, a young girl from the American heartland. Now she had a good life, until she ran away from home and found herself caught in a sex trafficking ring.

Here's her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Between 2003 and 2007, working out of Oklahoma City, the FBI conducted the first widespread human trafficking operation in the United States. Operation Stormy Nights resulted in the conviction of 15 pimps and human traffickers working throughout the American Midwest. Most of the traffickers' victims were young teenage girls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'd pull up at a truck stop. And it's like an alley just right on the other side of this fence. We can -- he tells us to get out. He tells us what kind of prices we're going to charge and exactly what we're going to do. My friends just kind of looks at me, she's kind of preparing me with her eyes. And then I was just kind of, like, I can help you if you help me. And maybe he won't kill us tonight.

So we get out of the car. And he informed us we better come back without any money.

We're walking around. There's lots of semis. And there's also a lot of girls out there. And a lot of them are just -- they look like half our age. They look like they could be like 8 or 9 years old.

So we go and we're knocking on doors. And we just try to keep smiling, just try to pretend that I wanted to be there and maybe I can just convince myself that maybe this will lead to something better, and maybe I just -- maybe I'm seeing it wrong and once we got inside the first -- the bed of the truck I started to just wish I was dead or something.

We get in the first truck. And the guy decides he wants me. So I go back there. And, you know, I just have to just pray to god just please help me, just please help me get through it, you know.

And -- Melissa (ph) went through the wallet. And he had grandkids as old as us. And all I could think about the whole time was how my grandpa could be this guy right now. And how that would feel. And I just wanted to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Angie, for the most part, came through her tragedy. She's got her feet on the ground and she's moving forward wanting to help people. And has a story that I think represents well what the nation is facing when we look at these kids that are being trafficked domestically right here on our own land.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now gut wrenching story. And that's just a peak at a two night television event, the CNN Freedom Project special Not My Life. You can see part 1 Saturday night, part 2 Sunday night at 7:00 pm in Hong Kong, 4:30 in New Delhi, right here on the world's news leader CNN.

We'll be right back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: The Indy car crash that took the life of one of the best known drivers on the circuit continues to make headlines. Now Don Riddell joins us from London with the latest -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Kristie.

Yes, there is mounting criticism of the Indy Car Series following Dan Wheldon's horrific death at the Las Vegas Speedway on Sunday. Many drivers have spoken about their safety concerns. And pointed questions are now being asked about why so many cars were in the field on a short, fast track that hadn't been used by Indycar for 11 years.

It's been revealed by the coroner that the popular 33 year old driver suffered blunt head trauma and was pronounced dead within an hour of the accident.

Many are now calling for a thorough investigation and a review of Indycar safety. While the Nascar driver Jimmy Johnson has called on Indy to abandon racing on oval circuits.

Wheldon left behind a wife and two very young children. And his father and brothers back home in Britain have been speaking of their loss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLIVE WHELDON, DAN WHELDON'S FATHER: Daniel was born to be a racer. And yesterday, left us doing what he loved to do. He was a true champion and a gentleman on and off the track. He was a proud brother to Austin (ph), Ashley (ph), Elliot (ph), and Holly (ph), a devoted son to Sue, myself, a loving husband to his wife Suzy (ph), and a doting father to his boys Sebastian and Oliver.

Words cannot describe how much our family will miss him. He touched so many. And the world is a better place because of Dan.

Thank you for allowing us to grieve in private and for all our thoughts and prayers. It means so much to our family. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL: Meanwhile, the other drivers that were injured in the crash have now been released from hospital. Britain's driver Pippa Mann needed surgery for a burnt finger and will need another operation in a few weeks time. The American driver JR Hildebrand suffered from a bruised sternum. Both are playing down their own trauma and have expressed sympathy for the Wheldon family.

It is has been 24 long years since New Zealand's All Blacks won the rugby world cup. And they're hoping that they only have to wait another five days to see the trophy again. The All Blacks have been mixing it up in training, playing football on a basketball court. And they're trying not to be complacent ahead of a final in which they are overwhelming favorites.

France will be their opponent, a team that's been hard to read at this tournament, but who have stunned New Zealand with shock defeats at two out of the last three world cups.

Kristie, we're hoping to have sound from the All Blacks. We'll have that for you in World Sport in about two-and-a-half hour's time.

STOUT: Yeah, the big game Sunday, 4:00 pm Hong Kong. Even I'm looking forward to it. Don Riddell, thank you very much indeed.

And now to a ceremony that promises to take us over and out there one day. Richard Branson christening the world's first commercial space port as only he can. Just check it out, Branson repelling down the hanger in the New Mexico desert and breaking open a giant bottle of champagne.

Now Spaceport America is the new home for his company Virgin Galactic. About 450 space tourists have already signed up at 200 grand a pop just to get to suborbital space from the spaceport. And that could get off the ground in 2013.

And just before we go I want to get you the latest on our top story, that historic prisoner exchange in the Middle East. We have just received these pictures of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit meeting with his father for the first time in more than five years.

Now more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have been traded for his release.

An emotional moment there.

Now, Gilad Shalit, he has also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Now Shalit had been held by Hamas since 2006. And today, after five years he is finally enjoying freedom.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.

END