Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking (R) 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The deal to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit will only go ahead on Hamas' terms, the groups leader in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, declared on Monday.
Al-Zahar warned that "the occupation must understand that all its attempts over the last five years have failed even when faced with the patience of Hamas and the Palestinian people."
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday appointed David Meidan to replace
in efforts to broker a deal with Hamas and gain the release of Schalit, who has been held in Gaza for almost five
Netanyahu informed Schalit’s parents
, Noam and Aviva, of the new
appointment at a late-night meeting he held with them, accompanied by his wife,
Sara, at his Jerusalem residence.
Meidan has held a senior position in
the Mossad and has already been involved in efforts to secure Schalit’s release.
He was chosen out of a number of candidates.
Before leaving his post,
Hadas will work briefly with Meidan so that he can bring him up to
Hadas announced last week that he was stepping down once his
two-year term expired, a step he said he had always anticipated
In a statement the prime minister released to the media after the
meeting, Netanyahu said Israel was continuing to work behind the scenes to free
the soldier. Such activities will continue, Netanyahu said.
assure you that in the coming days and weeks, we will continue to operate by all
the means that we have to bring about the release of Gilad,” he
said.Following the meeting, Noam Schalit said that the prime minister told
him and his wife that efforts to free their son are ongoing, but without
He told Israel Radio that in the private meeting, which lasted
over an hour, he and Aviva expressed their protest and frustration that
two governments in five years have been unable to bring their son home.
that the prime minister's invitation suggested he would be provided
with updates about developments in the efforts to return his son, Noam
said: "Unfortunately, the only thing we heard about was the appointment
of the new [mediator]."
President Shimon Peres will visit with the Schalits on Monday in a
demonstration of solidarity and to assure them that the state is doing
everything possible to bring home their son.
Peres will also spend time
talking to the people who have been a constant source of support to the
Schalits.Tovah Lazaroff and Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.