The father of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit made a plea to his government asking for the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of his son, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said in its online edition.

Noam Shalit made his first public statement by voicing support for a prisoner swap, a demand that Hamas made after capturing Shalit on Sunday June 25.

"In the end, it will be necessary to pay a price for Gilad’s freedom. I don’t understand why the government is delaying negotiations on this price," Shalit said.

Israel has vowed several times that it will release Palestinian prisoners after a February 2005 summit meeting between Palestinian President Abbas and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Sharm Al-Sheikh, Egypt. The last time Israel released prisoners was almost one year ago and most of the prisoners were almost finished their terms.

Shalit added that he wanted to meet his son’s captors, Haaretz said.

Isreal has so far rejected Hamas’s offer of a prisoners swap and the resistance group declared discussion closed after their deadline for the prisoner’s release was not met.

Instead Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and has killed dozens of Palestinians and left almost one million Palestinians in the dark after destroying the electricity plant which provides most of Gaza Strip with power.

Some media reports said that the resistance groups holding the soldier revised their swap proposal and said they would exchange Shalit for 120 Palestinian prisoners, though it was never confirmed by any of the groups.