New Letter From Gilad Shalit as Cabinet Contemplates Hamas Deal

The Palestinian Authority has allowed a letter apparently written by kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit to be released to the soldier's family.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz ,

Kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit
Kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit
photo: file

The Palestinian Authority in Gaza has transferred a letter apparently written by kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit to the soldier's family. The handwritten letter was identified as authentic and as having been composed recently. Government officials suspect it may be intended as a pressure tactic to forestall military action in Gaza.

The delivery of the letter comes less than a week after a spokesman for Damascus-based Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal claimed that Shalit had not yet written to his parents, despite a promise made to former US President Jimmy Carter during his visit to the terrorists in April that a letter would be sent as proof that Shalit is still alive.

In the letter, according to Gilad's father Noam, the young man indicated that his health is not good, he pleaded that his life be spared and that efforts be made to secure his release as soon as possible. No further details of the content have been released.
Noam Shalit said that the letter was a sign of life from their son, but it does not indicate progress in obtaining his release.

The letter was first sent to the Carter Center's Ramallah office on Sunday in accordance with Mashaal's promise. The Carter Center delivered the faxed note to the Shalit family on Monday and said that they would facilitate the delivery of a letter from the Shalits to their kidnapped son.

Noam Shalit said that the letter was a sign of life from their son, but it does not indicate progress in obtaining his release.

The jihadist Hamas terror organization that kidnapped Cpl. Shalit and the government of Israel have been recently conducting negotiations over the release of the young soldier. Hamas is demanding the release of a thousand terrorists held in Israeli jails in exchange for his freedom.

Government officials said that the timing of the release of the Shalit letter is not coincidental, coming as it has on the eve of a Tuesday cabinet meeting in which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are to discuss a ceasefire with PA terrorists brokered by Egypt. Officials believe that Hamas is trying to thwart a potential large-scale IDF operation in Gaza aimed at halting the ongoing barrage of rockets fired at Jewish towns in the western Negev.

IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit has been held captive by Hamas terrorists, currently the ruling power in the Gaza area of the PA, for two years. He was kidnapped from his IDF base in June 2006, less than a year after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, in a raid in which two other soldiers were killed and a fourth was seriously wounded.