Gilad Shalit 298 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The head of the Egyptian security delegation spearheading the negotiations with Hamas for the release of Cpl. Gilad Schalit, who was kidnapped in a cross-border raid near Kerem Shalom on June 25, denied recent reports that the delegation had delivered to Schalit a pair of glasses to replace those he lost in the raid, Israel Radio reported.
General Jamal Hamad told the Al-Quds newspaper, published in east Jerusalem, that the reports were only "guesses," and that media rumors would not facilitate the release of the captive soldier.
The Nazareth-based A-Sinara newspaper had reported early Friday that Schalit received his glasses, which his parents attempted to send him two months ago.
Abu Mujahid, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees - one of the groups claiming to hold Schalit - refused to confirm the report.
Also on Friday, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told French television Friday that Schalit would be released soon.
"I want to tell you that we are investing all our efforts to release Gilad Schalit, and these efforts will bear fruit soon. We are optimistic. He will be released soon," he said in an interview with "France 24."
"I am convinced that the soldier must be released," he continued. "He cannot continue being imprisoned for a very long time. We are calling on the Israelis to release Palestinian prisoners. There are 9,500 prisoners to release," said Abbas.
Although Abbas mentioned the need to release Palestinians, he said Schalit's release should not be connected.
"One issue does not depend on the other," Abbas said.
This was not the first time that Abbas, who has been working with Egypt to win the soldier's release, has said a deal was imminent. He has often made such statements in the past.
AP contributed to this report.