gilad schalit birthday cake.
(photo credit: Channel 1)
A Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Madina reported on Sunday that Israeli mediator Hagai Hadas was in Cairo for talks with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Ernst Uhrlau, the head of German's Foreign Intelligence Service (BND), who has mediated a number of Israeli prisoner exchanges in the past and is now reportedly heavily involved in the Gilad Schalit case.
The paper said the negotiations were almost "completed" and were focusing on the deportation issue as well as the release of jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti.
Under the deal, as reported by Der Spiegel, Israel will reportedly release 450 prisoners in the first stage. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has been a staunch opponent of the release of the terrorists to the West Bank.
While the talks were making progress, Schalit would not be released in the next day or two, according to a statement made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier in the day.
During Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told the ministers that while the government was committed to making every effort to free Schalit, they should ignore media reports and rumors.
"I don't know if there will be a breakthrough soon," he said.
Netanyahu said his government was committed to bringing Schalit home "safe and sound," but that there was a great deal of "exaggeration, incomplete and false information in the media" over the case.
Defense officials warned that it was possible that Palestinian terrorist groups would increase attacks against Israel, in an effort to derail the Schalit negotiations.
On Sunday, the IDF bombed a weapons-smuggling tunnel in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, in response to a rocket attack against the western Negev a day earlier. Army sources said that the rocket was not a Kassam - the standard Palestinian rocket - but rather a smaller rocket with a smaller warhead and a range of just a few kilometers.
Also on Sunday, shots were fired at bulldozers working along the Gaza border. No one was injured. Last week, a soldier was lightly wounded when a mortar shell hit near a base in the Negev.