Kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is alive and well, Hamas politiburo chief Khaled Mashaal said in a weekend interview to CNN. He said that Hamas had reached out to Shalit's father to tell him his son was fine and that Hamas had given him eyeglasses when he requested them.
Shalit, however, said in an audiotape message posted on a Hamas website in June that his health was
deteriorating and that he was in need of long-term hospitalization.
According to Mashaal, who was speaking in his first western interview in two years, Hamas has been negotiating a release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, via an Egyptian intermediary.
The politiburo chief said that Hamas had put forward a list of 350 Palestinians they want released from Israeli jails and said that Israel's behavior towards the list was responsible for the breakdown of talks.
Specifically, he cited Israel's unwillingness to release Palestinian leaders as an obstacle to a solution.
Shalit was captured in June 2006, during a joint raid by a number of Palestinian organizations - including Hamas - on the Kerem Shalom IDF post near the Israel-Gaza-Egypt border. Two other Israeli soldiers were killed in the assault.