The family of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit has allowed public access to a letter he wrote just months after being taken captive by Palestinian militants in 2006.

The letter was handed over to Israel by Egyptian mediators in October 2006, four months after Shalit was seized in a cross-border raid.

Israel had demanded the letter as a condition for beginning negotiations for a prisoner swap with the Palestinians.

The Shalit family has held on to the letter since its receipt, and only Tuesday were its contents permitted to be published.

The soldier's father, Noam, said following release of its content that it should not be viewed as a new or "dramatic" sign of his son's condition.

"This is not something new," said the elder Shalit. "It is a letter from three years ago. Since then, we have heard nothing from Gilad."

"Dear Mom and Dad, my brother and friends," reads the letter,

"I send you peace and health. My own health is dwindling from day to day, particularly my mental health, and this causes me much depression.

I am waiting for this intolerable nightmare of mine to end, to be released from this lonely and closed prison, especially since my 20th birthday has passed, one I had hoped we could celebrate together.

I ask of my government, particularly Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, to do everything they can to see my release as quickly as possible, because every day that passes hurts me more - they should do everything the Mujahadeen has asked for.

I hope you do everything possible so we can celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot at home."

Shalit signed his letter:

"Gilad Shalit, prisoner of the Palestinian Mujahadeen."