Hamas leader denies receiving Shalit tape

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NEW YORK (JTA) — Hamas’ deputy leader denied reports that he received a videotape of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Moussa Abu Marzouk made his denial in an interview Tuesday with the London-based newspaper a-Sharq al-Aws, the Jerusalem Post reported. Marzouk also said he had not been given a letter from the soldier, as had been reported.

"I have no information on Shalit," he was quoted in the interview as saying. "I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. The factions aren’t willing to give any information on him."

The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida had reported a day earlier that Marzouk was given a tape and a letter last month by the commander of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmad Jabari, during his short trip to the Gaza Strip after attending Palestinian reconciliation talks in Egypt.

A senior government source on Monday had told Israel Radio that the Prime Minister’s Office had no knowledge of the video.

Shalit was abducted in a cross-border raid in July 2006.

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Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Monday with Shalit’s father, Noam, in the protest tent set up a day earlier by the family outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence in Jerusalem. Shalit said the two in speaking for more than 10 minutes did not discuss the videotape, which reportedly showed his son in good health.

Shalit, who has received visits from top Israeli leaders, is scheduled to meet Tuesday with President Shimon Peres.

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