Palestinian officials said Saturday that the captured Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shalit, who has been held in Gaza since last June, by resistance groups involving Hamas, could be released if Israel agrees to the list of names of Palestinian prisoners expected to be swapped for Shalit.
Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian information minister, said in a press conference following a special cabinet meeting that the Palestinian unity government had backed any moves that would lead to an end to this case.
Barghouti told reporters that the list of prisoners’ names has been already handed out to the Egyptian security delegation, which mediates Palestinian-Israeli talks regarding possible prisoners swap deal.
Barghouti maintained that the ball now is in ‘Israel’s court’ as the Palestinians are just now waiting for an Israeli approval of the list, so that the standoff would come to an end in a matter of few days.
The Palestinian minister also reiterated the Palestinian government’s wish that the approximately 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, Israel is still imprisoning in its jails, be released as well.
Palestinian President anticipated Friday that Shalit will be released soon.
In June25, 2006, Palestinian resistance groups including Hamas, Popular Resistance Committees and the Army of Islam, captured Israeli corporal Gil’ad Shalit in an unprecedented cross-border attack on an Israeli army base to the south of Gaza Strip.
The groups demanded release of Palestinian prisoners, particularly women, in return for freeing the Israeli soldier.
The capture of Shalit prompted last summer a fierce Israeli military response that has claimed lives of more than 500 Palestinian men, women and children, wounded more than 4,000 others and caused wide-scale destruction to Gaza infrastructure, in what the Israeli army named ‘Summer Rains’.