JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel was impatiently awaiting on Wednesday for news about when captive soldier Gilad Shalit would return home, a day after the unveiling of key deal with Hamas that will see 1,000 Palestinians freed. The agreement, which was signed late on Tuesday, is expected to get under way in the coming days, with the initial release of some 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the now 25-year-old soldier. A second tranche of 550 prisoners will be released within two months. Top officials from Israel, Egypt and the Hamas movement have all said the process would begin within days, but so far there have been no specific details on the timing or the location of the swap. Israel's chief negotiator David Meidan said he was due in Egypt soon to finalise details of Shalit's return home. "The mission is not complete yet; it will be when Gilad returns home. Let's hope that will be in a matter of days," he said on Wednesday at the start of a working meeting with President Shimon Peres. If the accord is implemented, it will end an ordeal that has lasted more than five years for the young soldier, who has become a national icon in Israel since his capture by Gaza-based militants in June 2006. It will also be the first time in 26 years that a captured Israeli soldier has been returned to the Jewish state alive. And it will be a major political coup for Gaza's Hamas rulers, particularly vis-a-vis the Ramallah-based leadership of president Mahmud Abbas. In Gaza, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), one of the three groups which snatched Shalit along with Hamas and a Salafi group called the Army of Islam, said they had informed the soldier his release was imminent. "The PRC-Nasser Brigades informed Shalit, the prisoner it holds with the other factions, that the prisoner swap has been completed and it may be implemented in the next few days," Abu Attaya told AFP. The agreement, which won the backing of Israel's top military and defence chiefs, was approved by the government early on Wednesday, although Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and two others voted against it. "This is a great victory for Hamas," National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told army radio, shortly after voting against the deal, which he said sent a clear message that "terror pays." Israel has long baulked at the idea of freeing hundreds of Palestinians involved in anti-Israeli violence, fearing they would use their new-found freedom to launch new attacks. "There's no doubt this is very hard for the families of hundreds of victims of terror," Yoram Cohen, head of the Shin Bet internal security agency, told reporters late on Tuesday.