Israel has received a sign of life from kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit, according to the daily Hebrew newspaper Maariv.
Egyptian officials involved in talks between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization said the letter was checked and found to be authentic. It was passed to Shalit’s family, said the source.
Shalit was kidnapped in June 2006 by Hamas terrorists, the same organization whose paramilitia operatives one year later wrested control over Gaza from the rival Fatah faction that currently leading the Palestinian Authority.
The sources said the letter intensified efforts to negotiate with Hamas, which has demanded the release of thousands of terrorists, in exchange for Shalit’s freedom. Many of the requested terrorists were directly involved in the murders of Israeli citizens, and have thus been classified as having "blood on their hands."
But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided to relax the standards by which terrorists are categorized as having such bloody hands. Thereby Olmert can broaden the eligibility for release among the thousands of PA terrorists held in Israeli jails, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Olmert met Sunday to discuss his decision with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Public Security Minister and former head of the General Security Service (Shin Bet) Avi Dichter, former Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon, Environment Minister and former deputy Shin Bet head Gideon Ezra, Vice Premier Chaim Ramon, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
The current definition of the term includes terrorists who have masterminded, ordered and organized deadly attacks on Israeli citizens as well as those who physically prepared and carried out the attacks.
General Security Services (Shin Bet) director Yuval Diskin vehemently opposed the move. Israel’s representative in talks with the terrorists, Ofer Dekel, is the one who recommended it.
Diskin warned that releasing prisoners with “blood on their hands” would result in increased terrorist attacks, increase Hamas’s standing among PA residents, and thereby weaken Fatah leader and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s control over the population.
A senior government official said that even if Israel made the concession, “The road ahead is still very long. Hamas has high demands to which we have no intention of conceding.”
The State of Israel has so far not agreed to release terrorists classified as having “blood on their hands.”