23 year old Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas militants three years ago, is alive and well.
The Israeli government and Shalit’s parents have viewed a two-minute video recording made recently by the militant Islamist group of him reading a statement and physically moving. Speaking in Hebrew, the soldier gave his name and said he had been treated well by his Hamas captors. He held up a Palestinian newspaper with the date of the recording about two weeks ago to prove its validity. The video recording was handed over by Hamas in return for the freeing of twenty Palestinian women prisoners from Israeli jails. Their release got a joyful reception in the Islamist- run Gaza Strip. The Israeli government said none of the released women had been directly involved in killing. And none had been sentenced to more than two years in prison for their activities. The prisoner swap was negotiated by German and Egyptian diplomats. Observers say it could set the scene for larger prisoner release and eventual freedom for Shalit. But the Israeli government stressed that the path for the soldier’s freeing is still long and difficult. 41/ Pal Women)