Gaza –

Hamas leader Osama Al-Mazini promised on Monday to deliver a
letter from the family of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit if the
prisoner survived Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter.

“Hamas received the letter and promised to send it to the relevant persons.
If he is alive it will reach him, but if he is dead it won’t reach him
because we actually don’t know if he is still alive after the Gaza war,” he

Former US President Jimmy Carter had delivered a letter from the family of
the captured soldier to Hamas officials in Gaza earlier this month, in an
attempt to restart failing negotiations over his fate and the fate of
hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

“Carter asked for a confirmation from us and we replied that we don’t know
the real fact about whether he is dead or alive after Gaza’s war,” Al-Mazini

Meanwhile, the Hamas official noted that Shalit’s location is an extremely
guarded secret, and that Israel “doesn’t know where [Shalit] is in spite of
its spies,” adding that recent reports that Israel does not know whether the
soldier is alive is true, “not a media speech.”

Regardless, the official said that there has been little progress on the
soldier’s case, but that in the first year of Shalit’s detainment, there
were understandings reached with Israel. Am-Mazini said that such
negotiations ended with the administration of former Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert, who left office earlier this year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government hasn’t submitted
anything yet, and all that has been reported in the media are “test
balloons,” the official added, referring to a number of Israeli and
Palestinian reports that a release and prisoner swap were imminent.

Al-Mazini added that choosing Egypt as a mediator was Israel’s choice,
apparently because Israel, publicly, says it does not negotiate with Hamas,
which it considers a “terrorist” organization.

He also said that Israel has agreed not to rearrest anyone freed in the
deal, but that there were no guarantees the country’s military would not
attempt to assassinate them later.