The Hamas hostage-takers were reportedly seeking to obtain the release of 450 Palestinian Authority terrorists from Israeli jails in exchange for the video. The move would constitute the first step in a three-stage deal brokered by Egyptian officials. The plan would culminate in Cpl. Shalit's return to Israel, by way of Egypt, and the release of several hundred more Arab terrorists.
On Thursday, a senior Hamas official in Damascus told the media that Gilad Shalit is alive and well.
Rumors continue about the possible deal being worked out, with Egyptian mediation, between Israel and Hamas. On Wednesday morning, Hamas representatives claimed that an initial deal was canceled, but by Wednesday evening, they said that a new deal had been reached. According to Hamas, under the new deal, Israel would claim to release only 450 terrorists in exchange for Shalit, while actually releasing more than 1,000 of the security prisoners.
Hamas and Popular Resistance Committee terrorists captured Shalit during a cross-border raid on an army outpost last June. Israel has recently been involved in talks with the PA and Egypt in an effort to secure his release.
Meanwhile, Fatah-Hamas violence continues. Six people, including a top Fatah officer, were killed on Thursday, and over 20 were hurt. While Hamas accused Fatah of setting fire to three Hamas offices in Ramallah, Fatah men reportedly kidnapped three Hamas members in Gaza.
Amidst all this, Hamas leader Ismail Haniye said he had reached a truce agreement with PA chairman and Fatah leader Abu Mazen.
The U.S. Congress resolved yesterday to transfer $86.4 million to bolster forces loyal to Abu Mazen.