Gilad Schalit's father sends condolences to Hamas leader

The father of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit held captive in the Gaza Strip said Thursday that he sent a letter of condolences to the territory's Hamas strongman after his son was killed in an Israeli raid. Mahmoud Zahar confirmed to Yediot Ahronot that he had received the letter from Noam Schalit. Palestinian gunmen affiliated with Hamas captured Cpl. Gilad Schalit in June 2006 in a cross-border raid, and are still holding him. "It was a personal letter of condolences," Schalit told The Associated Press on Thursday. He said he did not appeal to Zahar to help free his son, but declined to disclose the text of the letter. Zahar's 24-year-old son Hussam, a Hamas operative, was one of 19 Palestinians killed Tuesday in an Israeli operation against Gaza rocket squads. Scenes of Zahar weeping as he kissed his dead son's forehead were shown on Israeli TV Tuesday.