Israel seized a Hamas commander in a covert Gaza raid and hinted he could be swapped for Gilad Shalit.
Mohawesh Kadi, a leader of the Hamas armed wing and paramilitary police Executive Force, was nabbed in the southern Gaza Strip late last Friday. Witnesses said his captors were Israeli commandos disguised as Executive Force gunmen.
Israel at first declined comment, but on Monday its internal security minister, Avi Dichter, confirmed that Kadi was in custody.
Speaking to Army Radio, Dichter described Kadi’s capture as part of efforts to secure the release of Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas-led gunmen on the Gaza border in June 2006.
“I think that any means of acquiring new intelligence is welcome,” said Dichter, a former Shin Bet security chief. “The ability to acquire new assets that are solidly relevant to the issue of freeing Gilad Shalit has a great advantage.”
Hamas has demanded that Israel free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. Israel has balked at releasing terrorists jailed for murderous attacks.
Asked if Kadi could serve as a “bargaining chip” in a future swap for Shalit, Dichter said: “Yes, of course.”