For an extensive feature, the U.K. Times sends reporter Christine Toomey to the Gaza Strip in search of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar says nobody from Hamas knows where Shalit is. Top Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef warns Toomey against asking too many questions about Shalit (“People get suspicious,” he says). Abu Khatab Doghmush, a clan leader, says the Kassam Brigades have Shalit and that he is treated well – a claim echoed by the spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees. The Kassam Brigades refuse to speak to Toomey.
The only thing Toomey seems certain of is that she’s getting the runaround. She writes:
To travel into the Gaza Strip is to enter into a heart of darkness in the Middle East. The pain and hatred of those I will meet there does little to inspire hope of a happy outcome to the hostage situation. The raw power-mongering of Palestinian politicians and the militant factions I encounter is matched by the cold calculations of Israel’s leaders, who have worked out the exact price they are prepared to pay to secure Shalit’s release. In the face of this cynical standoff, Shalit’s family is left in agonising limbo.