The Palestinian Authority signaled that an Israeli soldier held hostage in the Gaza Strip could be released soon. P.A. Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said Saturday that Israel had received updated ransom demands from Hamas-led gunmen who have held Cpl. Gilad Shalit since last June. The demands, which previously were rebuffed by Israel, are believed to include the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, possibly in three stages. “The ball is now in Israel’s court,” Barghouti said.Israel had no immediate comment on the Palestinian Authority’s announcement, which followed reports that Hamas had allowed the Red Cross to transfer a pair of eyeglasses to Gaza that were intended for Shalit. The gesture stoked speculation that a breakthrough in efforts to recover the soldier could be imminent.
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