Khaled Mashaal, the head of the diplomatic desk of the Hamas terrorist organization, told CNN over the weekend that he had made contact with Noam Shalit and informed him that his son was alive.  Mashaal even said that he had given the captive soldier a pair of glasses he had asked for.

Gilad Shalit was captured 14 months ago by Hamas terrorists who tunneled into Israel from Gaza.  Shalit, who will turn 21 this week, was in a tank at the time, and two of his comrades were killed by the terrorists.

Mashaal was the target of a bungled Israeli assassination attempt in October 1997.  He now runs his terrorist organization's political affairs from Damascus, Syria.

Noam Shalit told Haaretz that there were no direct ties between himself and Hamas or any of the kidnappers.  "I have no way of knowing if Gilad is in fact being treated well, as they claim," he said.  He noted that a while ago, "another Hamas leader said his health was not good; we don't know whom to believe."

One of Nine

Gilad Shalit is one of nine Israelis currently being held captive in foreign countries.  The others are Zechariah Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz, who were captured during the 1982 war in Lebanon; Jonathan Pollard, who has been incarcerated in the United States since 1985 after being convicted of spying for Israel - charges that carry an average of 2-4 years in prison; Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, captured in Lebanon in 1986; IDF soldier Guy Hever, who disappeared in the Golan Heights, on the Syrian border, in 1997; and reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, captured by Hizbullah 13 months ago and about whom no word has ever been received.