Shalit's health better than first feared

IDF: Hamas at odds over what to do with Gilad Shalit.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, JOSH BRANNON, JPOST STAFF
June 26, 2006 19:41
3 minute read.
shalit, gilad, 298 ch 10

shalit, gilad, 298 ap. (photo credit: AP)

 
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According to Egyptian negotiators working as a bridge between Israel and Gilad Shalit's abductors, as of Monday night the kidnapped soldier was suffering from a broken left hand and a light shoulder wound, Channel 10 reported. Shalit was previously thought to have sustained stomach and chest wounds of a more serious nature. For a Jerusalem Online video of the day's eventsclick here. Speaking earlier in the day after a gathering of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, a senior Intelligence Branch officer announced Monday afternoon that the IDF had knowledge that kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit was being held by Hamas' military wing. To view talkbacks 1-200 to this story click here. "We know that the soldier is alive and wounded, but we don't know where he is. It's in their interest to keep him alive. He is being held by Hamas' military wing, Izzadin el-Kassam," said the officer. "World leaders have told Abu Mazen to return the soldier," he said.

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"Their goal was to kidnap a soldier, take him to Gaza, present him in a press conference and demand prisoners. But they know the situation has changed because of the international pressure. "There is a dispute between Hamas' military wing, led by Khaled Mashaal, and the government, headed by [Palestinian Authority Prime Minister] Ismail Haniyeh. The latter views the situation as a political burden (he called it a hot potato) that has to be solved as soon as possible, while Mashaal believes Hamas should demand prisoners in exchange for Shalit. They are holding a dialougue," he continued. "Abu Mazen and Haniya are taking us seriously and understand our message that if the soldier is not returned, Israel will return to Gaza. They are preparing in the case we come by placing mines and pillboxes," he said. Currently, efforts to locate Shalit and bring him back home are concentrated on intelligence gathering and diplomacy. Preparing for a possible incursion of Gaza, the IDF is also amassing troops and heavy equipment (tanks, APCs, bulldozers) on the border. According to the officer, "Hizbullah is getting ready on the northern border in case Israel enters Gaza and they would want to open a second front. We are ready to absorb [an attack] and respond." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the committee that he was certain the Shalit family knows that all of Israel supported them. "I am sure that you will all join me in sending them a warm hug," said Olmert. "These are difficult moments that demand patience and strength." The prime minister added that he did not rule out an extensive IDF operation in Gaza in response to the kidnapping. "From our standpoint, it's not over. There is a soldier held by Hamas, which we can identify. The responsibility is on the Palestinian Authority, its head and its government. The attempt to say the incident wasn't terrorism is wild. Every incident of entering our land cannot be given legitimacy. Any such act is terrorism and all the responsibility is on the leaders and institutions of the PA if the soldier is harmed. "No one has immunity," he added. MK Silvan Shalom blasted Olmert, saying,"The policy we should have taken is what we said before disengagement: That if there will be shooting, the reaction will be painful. There is no difference between Hamas' diplomatic and security wings - They are both deep in terror. I hope the waiting won't make us miss an opportunity. "I recommended the assassination of Hamas leaders," he said. Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu joined his Likud colleague in criticizing the prime minister during the Committee meeting, saying, "I would not, at all costs, wait for the act because the soldier might never come home. The soldier can be freed. We need an aggressive approach and not the fawning of the government." "Unfortunately the prime minister hasn't learned anything, said the former prime minister. "A change in direction is needed immediately, such as massive reaction and the toppling of the Hamas government." "If we continue, we will get Kassams in Gush Dan," he told Olmert. "Do what you promised."

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