Shalit family: Happy about Gilad video, but won't rest until he's home
Israel to receive new footage of captive soldier in return for release of 20 Palestinian women in Israeli jails.
The family of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit on Wednesday welcomed news that Israel will receive new footage of the soldier, but said that they would not stop their efforts to secure his release until he is finally home.
Shalit has been held in the Gaza Strip since 2006, when he was seized by Hamas-allied militants in a cross-border attack.
The family welcomed "the significant achievement by the current negotiating team, under the leadership of Haggai Hadas, and German and Egyptian mediators," but added that this is just a "first step in the right direction to sign a deal for Gilad's release, and will not rest or be silent until they see Gilad back home."
They added that "both sides must continue to steadily advance the negotiations without neglect."
Israel will hand over 20 female Palestinian prisoners currently held in its jails in return for the video, which is being treated as definitive proof that the soldier is still alive. Egyptian security sources said Wednesday that long-standing efforts to secure an Israel-Hamas prisoner deal through a German mediation team are still underway.
Israel's Channel 10 television reported Wednesday that German mediators have already seen the footage of Shalit.
Of the 20 female Palestinian prisoners to be released by Israel, Hamas has stated that four are members of Hamas, five belong to the rival Fatah faction, and three are members of Islamic Jihad. Only one of the prisoners is a resident of the Gaza Strip, the rest are from the West Bank.
The prisoners had all served at least two thirds of their sentences and none had more than two years left to serve.
Last week, Egypt's foreign minister urged Israel to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.
Egypt has been mediating a prisoner swap and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Israel needs to show flexibility.