Kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit
Kidnapped soldier Gilad ShalitIsrael News Photo: (file)

According to the London-based Arabic daily A-Sharq al-Awsat, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) has reached the conclusion that Hamas does not intend to release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit even if its demands are met. The group is using Shalit to reinforce its reputation as a group capable of causing Israel to release terrorist prisoners, ISA sources said, but it does not intend to let Shalit go.

Israel and Hamas have been negotiating Shalit's release in exchange for terrorist prisoners with the help of Egyptian intermediaries. Hamas has repeatedly added new demands, ISA agents said.

In what appears to be an unusual leak from the ISA to an Arab newspaper, the sources said the ISA had created a plan that would put military pressure on Hamas in order to obtain Shalit's release. As a first step, the plan would end Israel's ceasefire with Gaza terrorists, a ceasefire the Shabak opposed from its creation, and which has been repeatedly broken by Gaza terrorists. Hamas is using the ceasefire to build up its forces in Gaza and create a network of bunkers and tunnels that will make future military operations in the area very difficult, senior IDF sources have warned. But the Olmert government has refrained from decisive action against Gaza terrorists in order to maintain the ceasefire.

In addition to ending the ceasefire, Israel should return to its policy of assassinating senior terrorists, the ISA sources said. Israel should also return to closing off Gaza completely and responding to rocket attacks with artillery fire, they added.

If all of those measures do not work, they concluded, Israel should consider a widescale military operation in Gaza.