Noam Shalit Urges Meshal: Accept Israel's Offer for Prisoner Swap

In letter to Hamas politburo chief, Shalit says deal would help liberate Gaza from stringent restrictions.

Noam Shalit, father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, on Thursday sent a letter addressed to Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal urging him to accept Israel's latest offer for a prisoner exchange to release his son, who was captured by Hamas in 2006.

"Finalizing the exchange deal will immediately liberate the residents of Gaza from the stringent restrictions on the movement trade from and to the Gaza Strip, as well as from the residents' suffering that has continued for many years and is a direct link to Gilad's captivity for over four years," Noam Shalit wrote.

He also mentioned in his letter the fact that the Knesset has agreed to an exchange deal that includes more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israeli prisons, 450 of whom Hamas had specifically requested to be included in the deal.

At the beginning of the letter, Shalit addressed the Meshal, as well as other top Hamas officials in Gaza, and wrote that he sent the letter on his own accord, on behalf of his family, and for the interest of hundreds of families of the Palestinian prisoners and hundreds of thousands of Gazan residents.

"The European Parliament set precedent on March 11, 2010, and unequivocally ruled, with a sweeping majority, that Gilad must be released immediately and allowed his basic rights according to the international laws and conventions," Shalit wrote.

"I want to take this opportunity to remind you, Mr. Meshal, that holding Gilad hostage as political clout and without basic human rights, which the Third Geneva Convention commands for all prisoners of war, is a blatant breach of international law," he added.

"I would also like to remind you," Shalit wrote, "that the Goldstone committee, who was recognized and even encouraged by you, unequivocally ruled that Gilad should be released and until that happens, he should be granted basic human rights."