The IDF has denied reports that abducted soldier Gilad Shalit was injured during its military operations in Gaza. “We do not intend to participate in the trading of rumors which are part of psychological warfare,” an IDF spokesperson said in a statement Saturday night.
Deputy Hamas politburo head, Musa Abu-Marzook told the British Guardian on Friday that Hamas is prepared to give over information about Gilad Shalit if Israel will remove certain prisoners from solitary confinement, release infirmed female prisoners, and provide information regarding two Hamas operatives who disappeared.
"Israel and Egypt and Hamas have known for two years that the Shalit file is completely separate from other issues," protested Abu Marzook, who returned to Damascus from ceasefire talks in Cairo. "We are ready to start negotiating about Shalit, but the issue is not linked to any other as far as we are concerned. This is not acceptable to us."
The soldier, who was abducted by Hamas on June 25, 2006, is believed to be alive but his whereabouts are unknown, and he has not been seen by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "It's good that they [the Israelis] don't know where he is, otherwise they would have killed him," Marzook claimed.
Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) spokesman Abu Abir also stated that Shalit was wounded during Operation ‘Cast Lead’. In an interview with the London-based Al Hayat daily on Saturday, Abu Abir added that previous reports were not fabricated by the media. In addition, Abu Abir claimed that Israel is responsible for Shalit's safety. However, he would not divulge the nature of Shalit’s injuries. Israeli officials said they believe Abu Abir is bluffing.
The PRC official said that there would be no free information on the condition of Shalit, adding, "We will not disclose more information out of keenness on Palestinian interests". According to Abu Abir, only very few people know where Shalit is being held.
An Arab source had previously stated that Shalit was wounded in the Israeli raids on Gaza on December 29, but did not clarify the extent of his injuries. Hamas sources refused to confirm or deny the news report but held Israeli leaders fully responsible for any harm done to him during the raids. Israeli trackers found Shalit's blood-stained bulletproof vest immediately after Shalit was kidnapped, close to the Gaza security barrier.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev told Israel National News that the government’s policy is not to issue a statement about “disinformation” regarding Gilad Shalit. “We don’t want to play in their hands,” Regev said.