Gilad Shalit’s father authored an article in a Palestinian newspaper accusing Hamas of blocking a prisoner exchange with Israel.
In an op-ed in Wednesday’s Al-Quds, Noam Shalit wrote that his son was entering a third year of captivity in the Gaza Strip because his Hamas captors were sticking to unrealistic ransom demands that Israel cannot meet.
“It emerges that Hamas, in insisting on a very specific list of Palestinian prisoners that it demands Israel free in exchange for Gilad, has been preventing the release of hundreds or thousands of other prisoners,” Shalit said.
Hamas-led gunmen abducted Gilad Shalit, a tank crewman, to Gaza on June 25, 2006 and have kept him largely incommunicado since.
A release roster presented by Hamas includes hard-core terrorists which Israel says must remain behind bars if there is to be a chance for peacemaking with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli officials have signaled flexibility on releasing inmates jailed for lesser offenses.
Shalit wrote that Hamas was effectively holding Gaza “hostage” as well as his son, given Israel’s refusal to lift a crippling embargo on the territory unless there is progress in Egyptian-brokered negotiations on a prisoner swap.
Al-Quds is a Palestinian Authority newspaper, and Shalit’s op-ed appeared to be an effort to turn ordinary Palestinians against Hamas, Abbas’ Islamist rival.