Operation Cast Lead and the severe blow it dealt to Hamas has created "better conditions" for negotiations over the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, according to recent assessments in Military Intelligence. The IDF believes that the attacks against Hamas have severely weakened the terrorist group and that as part of its effort to win back the Palestinian public opinion the group may soon seek to close a trade of Schalit for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. On Saturday night, before the cease-fire was announced, Schalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, held a press conference, demanding that the government not ignore the subject of their son's freedom for a second time. Schalit's release was not part of last June's cease-fire agreement with Hamas. "Gilad's return has to be an indispensable part of any cease-fire or any agreement to end the war," Noam told reporters at the press conference in his hometown of Mitzpe Hila in the Upper Galilee. "We see this as a critical widow of opportunity for Gilad's return, after two-and-a-half years in captivity, that will not come again." Defense officials said that while it was unlikely that there would be a major breakthrough in the talks before the Knesset elections next month, the military operation and the threat of continued action has created "better conditions" for the talks. The talks between Hamas and Israel had stalled during the previous cease-fire that ended in December. Hamas is demanding 1,400 Palestinian prisoners - including several hundred with blood on their hands - whom Israel is opposed to releasing.