Shalit Kidnappers Reject Egyptian-Brokered Deal

Hamas terrorists who are holding IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit hostage have rejected a deal to swap the Israeli soldier for 1,000 Palestinian Authority Arab terrorist prisoners.

Hana Levi Julian,

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Gheit said in an interview on Al Arabiya television that terrorists rejected a deal “to free women, children, elders and those who have been serving long prison terms” in exchange for Shalit.

The prisoner exchange “could have guaranteed freeing 900 to 1,000 prisoners,” said Abu Gheit, “but sadly they have decided to keep holding him.”

Egypt lost patience with Hamas last week and, in a harsh letter written by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, demanded that Shalit be released by October 22nd, the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Suleiman also said Meshal would be held responsible for any Israeli military operation carried out in Gaza. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said on Sunday that Israel may ratchet up the pressure in Gaza in response to increased Kassam rocket attacks on Sderot and other southern Israeli communities.

A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), the Hamas terror organization that kidnapped Shalit, said Monday that such an attack would close the door on Shalit. The spokesman, Abu Mujahed, warned, "If they enter Gaza and kill people, they will never regain their soldier."

Meanwhile, Israel says it plans to continue its flights over Lebanon - a subject of a UNIFIL complaint - until the two soldiers being held by Hizbullah are returned and until arms-smuggling from Syrian into Lebanon is stopped.