Senior Hamas official: Shalit alive

Hamas ready to give Israel videotape of Shalit in exchange for prisoners.

mubarak 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
mubarak 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
A senior Hamas official said Thursday his group was ready to give Israel a videotape of the soldier if it agreed to release Palestinian women prisoners and other detainees. Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau in Damascus, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that Shalit was alive. He said his group would be willing to trade the videotape for the freedom of "Palestinian women and a considerable number of detainees." He did not give a specific figure. On Wednesday night, Ahmed Youssef, political advisor to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said that Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman had transmitted a new proposed deal to Haniyeh in Saudi Arabia to secure the release of Shalit and that Hamas was discussing the proposal. Israel Radio reported that Youssef told the Palestinian news agency, Ma'an, that the contentious issue between the two sides was the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released by Israel. Yossef said that Israel was now prepared to release about one third of the number being demanded by Palestinians. Youssef expressed hope that Israel would relent and raise the number of prisoners to be freed with Egyptian mediation. He claimed that Israel had agreed to release 200 prisoners who had been sentenced to long prison terms, including senior officials from Hamas and other Palestinian factions. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was also discussing the issue of Shalit's release with an Egyptian delegation in Gaza on Wednesday night.