Suleiman warns Hamas to release Schalit

Report: Egyptian intel chief warns group to release kidnapped soldier or face massive Israeli attack.

Gilad Schalit 298 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 298 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If ceasefire negotiations will not include the safe return to Israel of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, held by terrorists in Gaza for almost two years, Israel will embark on a massive operation against Hamas in Gaza, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman reportedly conveyed to Hamas's Gaza rulers. Suleiman is playing an instrumental role in indirect ceasefire negotiations between Hamas and Israel, which have been ongoing for several weeks. The recent report, by the Lebanese Al Akhbar, also quoted Palestinian sources as saying that the Hamas negotiators, shuttling between Gaza and Cairo, were willing to show some flexibility on the details of the agreement, but that their insistence on having a number of high-profile prisoners released by Israel still stalled the possibility of an agreement. Sources quoted by Al Akhbar said that according to Suleiman, Israel will carry out "serious attacks" against Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza, unless the ceasefire deal currently being hammered out includes the release of Schalit. The paper reported that a meeting between Suleiman and Hamas top officials dealt mainly with the option of tying Schalit's release to a general ceasefire. Hamas "is not interested in keeping Schalit [hostage] forever," the group's spokesman Ayman Taha said. "If Israel will abide by the resistance's demands, we shall release him forthwith." Meanwhile, Abu Mujhad, spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees [PRC], one of the groups responsible for kidnapping Schalit, said his group "agrees to tie the issue of a ceasefire to Schalit." He added that the Schalit affair was still "standing at the same point" because of Israeli "stubbornness." On Sunday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to arrive in Sharm el Sheikh for the World Economic Forum, headed by US President George W. Bush. Sources in Jerusalem said Livni might convene with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and also with his expected successor, his son Gamal. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit is also expected to meet with Livni.