IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz appointed a special team last week to review the investigation on the circumstances of the captivity of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Hamas in 2006.
The team, led by Reserve Colonel Lior Lotan, was created to refresh the examination of the evidence gathered thus far on Shalit’s whereabouts. Other than Lotan, six other intelligence experts and army officers are to take part in the special team.
Major-General Orna Barbibai, chief of staff at the personnel directorate, met Wednesday with the Shalit family and updated them on the new move.
Former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said before stepping down from their posts that Israel does not have exact information on the circumstances of Shalit’s captivity under Hamas and therefore Israel cannot locate him and guarantee his release.
The new team is meant to review with fresh eyes all the evidence gathered by the IDF and Israeli intelligence since Shalit’s abduction five years ago, in the hope of finding new angles to approach the situation.
Lotan’s team will work in parallel to the current intelligence team on Shalit led by the Shin Bet, and in coordination with the Mossad.
The IDF stressed that the new team is supposed to aid the political echelon, who is considering either a prisoners exchange deal for Shalit or an IDF operation for his release, and is in no way a pretext to delay decisions on a deal.
The outlines of a Shalit deal between Israel and Hamas have long been known, according to diplomatic sources, which would be based on the release, in two phases, of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. However the disagreements on a deal surround a number of security prisoners Hamas demands Israel release.
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