The White House said Wednesday it was pleased with reports that the "long overdue" release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would take place soon after a deal with Hamas.

The agreement to release Shalit, which will see 1,000 Palestinians freed by Israel in return, is expected to get underway in the next few days.

"We are pleased by the reports that Mr Shalit will be home soon with his family," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"The president has called many times for his release and his release is long overdue," he said.

If the accord is implemented, it will end an ordeal that has lasted more than five years for the soldier, who has become a national icon in Israel since his capture by Gaza-based militants in June 2006.