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July 24, 2008 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-07-24

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Come for the Lifestyle.


Exchange Backlash

Hezbollah swap muddies talks
with Hamas over Gilad Shalit.

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Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists two years ago.


Roy Eitan
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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July 24 • 2008

he long-awaited resolution to
the Lebanese hostage crisis
has cast a pall over efforts
to retrieve the Israeli soldier held by
Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Gilad Shalit was abducted to Gaza
shortly before Hezbollah snatched
Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev to
Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Unlike
the two army reservists, who suffered
fatal wounds during their abduction
and were repatriated for burial this
month, Shalit is known to be alive.
That, Israeli security sources say, has
hindered Egyptian-mediated negotia-
tions on Shalit's return. Having freed
jailed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar
and four captive Hezbollah gunmen in
exchange for two Israeli corpses, Israel
is likely to face troubles bargaining
down Hamas when it comes to a living
Citing senior Palestinian sources, the
Ha'aretz newspaper reported over the
weekend that "Hamas isn't willing to be
flexible about Shall"
"Israel set a precedent with its release
of Samir Kuntar, considered a 'prisoner
with blood on his hands; in return for

two bodies:' Hamas supreme leader
Khaled Meshaal said over the weekend.
"In our case we have a live prisoner,
and we have no plans to retract our
demands — quite the opposite'
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
has long balked at the asymmetry of
the swap proposed by Hamas, which
seeks the release of 1,100 prisoners, at
least a third of them serving life sen-
tences for deadly attacks.
Olmert successfully held out
against a similar opening demand by
Hezbollah, which had wanted many
Arab prisoners, as well as the five
Lebanese, freed from Israeli jails as a
condition for returning Goldwasser and
Regev's bodies.
But as Shalit enters a third year of
captivity in conditions that are widely
believed to be primitive, Olmert faces
mounting pressure even from within
his own Cabinet to compromise on the
At least three ministers have publicly
backed the idea of releasing at least
some prisoners "with blood on their
hands:' a reversal of long-standing
Israeli doctrine. One Cabinet member,
Ami Ayalon, warned that failing to
retrieve Shalit could risk losing him
In several media interviews, Ayalon, a
former navy admiral and Shin Bet chief,

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