First, some background, to bring everyone up to date:
Gilad Shalit, born 28 August 1986, is an Israeli soldier who was captured on 25 June 2006 by Palestinian militants in a cross border raid from the Gaza Strip on the crossing Kerem Shalom (in Israel) and has been held hostage by Hamas since.
Shalit is believed to be alive.
Shalit, a soldier of the IDF's Armor Corps, held the rank of corporal at the time of the incident but has since been promoted to staff sergeant.
He became the first Israeli soldier captured by militant Palestinian forces since Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. His abduction and the following cross border raid by Hezbollah, resulting in the abduction of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev into Lebanon, occurred prior to the conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon during summer 2006.
Shalit holds French citizenship, a fact that encouraged France and the European Union to be involved to some extent in the efforts to release him.
Hamas has barred the International Red Cross from seeing him, and demands the release of 450 Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas' refusal to negotiate about the status of Shalit or even to provide further information about his status strained the temporary Israel-Hamas cease-fire enacted in 2008 and it led partly to the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.
In January 2009, there were claims from Palestinian sources that Shalit had been injured by shrapnel during the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.
On 11 January 2009, Abu Marzuk, Deputy Chief of the Hamas Political Ministry, told the London-based Arabic daily, Al-Hayat that "Shalit may have been wounded, and he may not have been. The subject no longer interests us. We are not interested in his well-being at all, and we are not giving him any special guard since he is as good as a cat or less."
On 22 January 2009, Israel indicated that it wanted to swap Palestinians held in Israeli jails for Shalit as part of a longer-term truce after the three week military operation in Gaza.
On 26 January 2009, it was reported that Israel is offering to free 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit. On 16 March 2009, it was reported that a prisoner swap deal to gain Shalit's release was close, and the negotiation team was urged to wrap up the deal.
Israel has agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, but there were still disagreements over a number of prisoners.
The negotiation team however deadlocked over the release of 450 "heavyweight" prisoners. According to a senior source in the PM's Office, "a deal cannot be finalized on such terms, and there's nothing to vote on (in the government session) Tuesday".
In May 2009, President Shimon Peres invited Shalit's family to meet Pope Benedict XVI at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on Monday.
On 25 June 2007, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem issued a statement saying "international humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill the person if the demands are not met", and thus holding Gilad Shalit as a hostage to their demands is a war crime.
Shalit's denied access to Red Cross (ICRC) visitation was also noted as a violation of international law.
Human Rights Watch has also called for Shalit's release and for the ICRC to be granted access to him.
This article was written and published by Wikipedia
Here is the latest, hopeful, news about our dear Chaver, Gilad Shalit:
New U.S. initiative to free Shalit underway
Tags: Gilad Shalit, Israel News
Abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will be transferred to Egypt within a few days as part of a prisoner-exchange deal with Hamas, European diplomatic sources said Thursday.
The move is part of a new United States initiative that includes Egyptian and Syrian pressure on Hamas, internal Palestinian reconciliation and Israel's opening of the Gaza crossings.
reliable European source said this Egyptian-brokered agreement was reached two days ago. A Palestinian source confirmed the report last night but officials in Jerusalem denied any knowledge of it.
The idea to transfer Shalit to Egypt in exchange for the release of Palestinian women, teens, cabinet ministers and parliamentarians being held in Israeli prisons was raised about a year ago during a visit by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter to Damascus, Jerusalem and Gaza. Apparently Carter raised it again on his visit earlier this month, during which he met Noam Shalit, Gilad's father.
According to the plan Shalit will be entrusted to Egyptian intelligence, and his parents will be allowed to visit him. He will be returned to Israel after an agreement is reached regarding the list of Hamas prisoners to be released that was previously submitted to the cabinet.
An Egyptian source close to the developments told Haaretz that Hamas is insisting that Israel release prisoners with "blood on their hands" as approved by the cabinet under former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Israel this week freed Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Sheikh Aziz Dweik after three years in prison. Dweik, a leader of Hamas in the West Bank, espouses a moderate line in the organization.
The European source said Shalit's transfer to Egypt was the first stage of the Egyptian-brokered agreement hammered out between Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions, in coordination with the U.S. and with Syria's support.
The deal would put the Gaza Strip under the leadership of a joint committee subordinate to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, removing it from the control of the government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
On Tuesday Palestinian news agency Maan quoted Egyptian sources as saying that Shalit was to be transferred from the Gaza Strip into Egypt within hours, a report that Israeli sources denied.
Shalit was abducted in a cross-border raid by Gaza militants on June 25, 2006.
The leader of Hamas said yesterday he welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama's new approach to the Middle East, but is waiting to see action.
In a televised speech Hamas chief Khaled Meshal pointedly avoided any mention of the recent turmoil in Iran, even though Hamas is backed by the Tehran regime.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, has increasingly tried to reach out to the Obama administration in recent weeks. The militants are trying to bring an end to an international boycott of Hamas and a two-year border closure of Gaza.
Meshal said the only way for Israel to win Shalit's release is by striking "a full deal," and not "the way of obduracy" which he claims was characteristic of Olmert.
Noam Shalit urged Israelis yesterday to think of his son's plight in Hamas captivity.
"My request today, June 25, 2009, is for every person in the country, man and woman, young and old, to close their eyes for three minutes. Three minutes only, and to wait until these minutes are over, and in this time for everyone to try to think of what my son Gilad is going through," Noam Shalit told Army Radio.
In the radio interview, Noam Shalit described his son as "a young man who is waiting with bated breath, not only for three minutes, and not only for three hours and not even for three days; but waiting in darkness and despair, suffering physically and mentally, for the freedom that was taken from him three years ago."
Posted by Michael Blackburn, Sr.