More than three years after her brother was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip, Gilad Shalit's sister Hadas will enlist in the army on Wednesday. Hadas has asked not to link her enlistment to the struggle for her brother's release.
The activists leading the campaign for Gilad's release said Tuesday they understand and respect Hadas' request: "We congratulate Hadas on her enlistment, wish her luck and respect her decision to take part in the struggle for her brother's release in her own way."
Noam and Aviva Shalit's youngest daughter recently concluded a year of community service at a school in Jerusalem. "She could have given up army service, but chose to contribute to the state," one of her friends told Ynet.
"She thinks it is important for her to be like any other young person who cares about the state," the friend added. "In all of her conversations with her friends it was clear that despite the difficult situation Hadas would not give up military service.
"We know that Aviva and Noam greatly respect her decision and stand by her."
Hadas, Yoel and Gilad's young sister has kept away from the limelight in the last three years. However, friends and family say she makes sure to remain updated on all the developments concerning Gilad.
Hamas: Deal encounters difficultiesA senior Hamas official commented Tuesday on the recent reports on progress in the negotiations for Shalit's release. "There is progress but a deal has yet to be reached and there are quite a few difficulties," he told Ynet.
He added that although talks have intensified in recent days, no breakthrough has been recorded.
"The negotiations are conducted consistently and diligently in an attempt to resolve every disputed issue," said the official. "The talks have even reached a stage where each name is being discussed, but there are still some obstacles."
He added that the German mediation has helped advance the talks: "It's not that the Egyptians have not been effective, but it seems that the German experience in prisoner exchange deals has an effect, and things are moving forward," he stated.
However, the official noted that similar progress has been recorded on several occasions in the past, but has led to no concrete results. "Things appear to be serious, but its' too early to make any statements."
The official stressed that Hamas' stance in the negotiations has remained almost unchanged. A Hamas delegation is currently in Cairo for talks with senior Egyptian officials on the matter.
Meanwhile, European sources told al-Manar, an independent Palestinian newspaper based in east Jerusalem, that a prisoner swap will be announced ahead of the high holidays. According to the report, the German mediator who visited Israel and Egypt last week and met with Hamas representatives has managed to remove the last obstacles facing the deal.
The newspaper further said that Germany has helped find countries willing to accept the prisoners slated to be deported in the framework of the exchange. Sources told the paper that Syria, Sudan and several European countries have agreed to host the freed prisoners for a period of one year, after which they will return to their homes.
Ali Waked and Roee Nahmias contributed to the report