Jerusalem – In what some have said is an effective strategy to manipulate the Israeli news media, the Hamas terror groups that have held Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, for the past two years arranged for his parents to receive another letter from him yesterday.
The letter, which was preceded by two others, was said by Hamas to be in keeping with the group’s pledge to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Cpl. Shalit’s father, Noam, confirmed the letter was relayed through the “Born To Freedom Foundation.”
In a statement to the media, Mr. Shalit said, “The family had received a letter today via the secretary-general of the Carter Center. There are many signs indicating that the letter is authentic. It conveys a message from Gilad – he is pleading, begging us to do everything we can to see that he is released from captivity.”
Over the past year, Hamas has delivered several indicators that Cpl. Shalit was still alive. The second letter from the captive soldier was relayed in mid-February, through a third-party mediator. And in 2007, Hamas released a tape of Cpl. Shalit’s voice.
A senior Israeli government official said yesterday the new letter should be treated as a message from Hamas, which is the ruling force in Gaza.
Further, the official said, the letter’s timing is far from coincidental: “The letter has surfaced just before the security cabinet’s discussion which is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, to discuss on any future Gaza operation. The letter surfaced just as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and (Foreign Minister Tzipi) Livni have reiterated Israel’s prerequisite that Gilad be released.”
Former President Carter, who met with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal twice during his Middle East visit in April, subsequently told members of the Shalit family that Hamas reported that Cpl. Shalit was “doing well.”
Mr. Shalit also conferred with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert regarding the effort made on behalf of his son just last week.
He left the meeting with a “bad feeling,” Mr. Shalit said.
“My impression from this meeting is very difficult. We didn’t hear anything new from the prime minister and he couldn’t tell us about any progress being made.
“It has been nearly two years (since the kidnapping) and nothing is seen in the horizon,” Mr. Shalit told the Israeli media. “We expect news and expect this affair to end, but at the moment we see nothing new that will bring back Gilad.”
Egypt has been trying to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.
Israel officials have repeatedly stressed to Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman that any cease-fire agreement involving the terror groups in the Gaza Strip, would have to include the safe release of Cpl. Shalit.
A senior Palestinian official added yesterday that Egypt is demanding the Palestinian organizations show more flexibility regarding Cpl. Shalit’s release; asking they work towards making the Shalit case an inseparable part of any cease-fire talks.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008