As uncertainty continued to loom over the prospective prisoner swap with Hamas for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, conflicting reports emerged Thursday regarding the status of the deal.
Hamas spokesman Osama Abu Khaled reportedly said Israel still had several reservations regarding the proposed deal, noting that the release of Schalit may still be some way away.
According to Israel Radio, Abu Khaled, speaking in Damascus, said that two unresolved issues at the heart of the negotiations were Hamas's demand for the release of 125 long-term prisoners and the question of deportation or relocation of certain prisoners upon their release.
Abu Khaled said it was not at all clear that a deal was close at hand. "Such leaks are coming from Israel," he reportedly said.
In a contradictory report, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported Thursday that Schalit had been transferred to Egypt in recent days in preparation for the prisoner exchange. The paper quoted "sources" who said Schalit had been escorted to Egypt by Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar and the commander of the group's military wing, Ahmad Jabari.
The captive soldier was reportedly transported over the border on a bus under heavy Egyptian security. The move was apparently the result of an Egyptian demand, in order to verify the sincerity of Hamas's intentions to move ahead with a deal.
None of the reports could be confirmed by The Jerusalem Post.