Gilad Shalit
Photo: AP
Mubarak. PR?
Photo: AFP

'Hamas leaders don't know about Shalit's condition'

Group member in charge of kidnapped soldier's case denies reports on progress made in talks, says no one in Hamas leadership – including himself – knows whether Gilad Shalit is 'injured, sick or dead.' Captive's fate will only be revealed upon completion of deal, he adds

No one in Hamas – apart from a very exclusive circle within the group's military wing – knows Gilad Shalit's location or is in contact with him, senior organization member Osama al-Muzeini said Friday morning following reports that indirect talks for a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas will be resumed soon.


According to al-Muzeini, who is in charge of the Shalit case in the Hamas organization, the exclusive circle is excluded and no one is in touch with it, due to the sensitivity of the issue.


According to al-Muzeini, no one within Hamas' political or military leadership knows where Shalit is – including al-Muzeini himself, who only serves as a spokesman on the issue.


The Hamas man added that since the Israeli offensive in Gaza ended, the organization's leadership does not know about Shalit's medical condition either.


"We don't know if he's injured, sick or dead. That's the truth, and there is no Hamas tactic here," he said, in response to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's remark that the Israeli captive was "safe and sound."


According to al-Muzeini, Mubarak's remarks were "public relations more than something based on real information."


He added that Shalit's fate would only be revealed once a prisoner swap is executed. "Hamas' successful security planning has prevented the enemy from locating Shalit's whereabouts," he boasted.


Al-Muzeini clarified that the reports on an imminent release were false, and that Hamas continued to stick to its conditions for a prisoner exchange deal.


"Our stand is stable and will not change, and everything being said is part of the psychological war run by the Zionists. Israeli media outlets are the ones distributing these reports. Neither Haaretz nor Maariv represent our stand.


"Hamas will not change its list. the 450 'heavy' prisoners will only be released as part of the deal, which has become those prisoners' only hope."


In Gaza City, Hamas strongman Mahmoud al-Zahar blamed Israel for the deadlock in the negotiations.


He said Israel and Hamas agreed on 325 specific prisoners to be released, but couldn't find common ground on the remainder; Hamas reportedly seeks the release of 450 prisoners in exchange for Shalit.


"They (Israeli negotiators) don't want to release them. We say these must be released, since they are the core of the deal. Israel is responsible for the failure of this deal," Zahar told reporters after Friday prayers at a Gaza mosque.


Associated Press contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 07.10.09, 11:55
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