In what the Hamas leadership called a “goodwill gesture to Jimmy Carter” in exchange for his meeting with the group, the Islamic movement released a letter written by captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to his parents. Shalit was captured from an Israeli military base in June 2006 by Palestinian resistance fighters. He is the only Israeli in the custody of the Palestinian resistance. Israeli forces currently hold over 10,000 Palestinians in detention, many of them held without charge in what is euphemistically termed “administrative detention”.
The Palestinian resistance, led by the Hamas movement, have called for the release of 14% of the prisoners held by Israel (1,400) in exchange for 100% of the Israelis held by the Palestinian resistance (1). Israel has thus far refused the offer.
In the letter, Shalit complained of poor health and urged the Israeli government to speed the efforts to have him released. According to the Israeli Channel One television, the letter stated, “Dear Dad, Mom, my brother and sister, grandmom and grandad and all the family. I am being treated well, although my health is very bad. I feel weakness and shortness of breath … I ask you to do everything to return me home, otherwise it might end in tragedy. Israel must release Palestinian prisoners, because they also have families waiting for them at home, and then I will be able to come home quickly,"
It is one of few indications that the Palestinian resistance have released that indicate Shalit is still alive. An audio tape was released last June, and prior to that, a letter was released in late 2006.
A statement from Hamas official Osama al-Muzaini stated, "The letter was sent in a goodwill gesture to former President Jimmy Carter and to indicate Hamas's seriousness in its desire to reach a prisoner swap deal that will close the Shalit file and fulfill the demands of the Palestinian groups who abducted Shalit."
Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, of the Hamas party, said that Hamas expects that Israel will return the goodwill gesture with concrete action.