Noam Shalit: Contacts Over Kidnapped Son Are Continuing

Noam Shalit, the father of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, confirmed to Haaretz yesterday that contacts to secure his son's release are continuing and that the German negotiator and Israeli negotiator Hagai Hadas are still "working."

He did not elaborate.

He also said he could not guarantee the reliability of a report in the London-based Arabic-language daily Al Hayat yesterday, which stated the German mediator visited the region two weeks ago and met with officials from Israel, Egypt and Hamas.

Over the weekend, Noam Shalit sent a letter to the head of the Hamas politburo, Khaled Meshal, on the occasion of Palestinian prisoners' day, which was Saturday. In the letter, Shalit disclosed the latest proposal that the ministerial forum of seven had approved.

The proposal includes the release of 1,000 Arab prisoners, including 450 demanded by the Hamas leadership, Shalit stated.

Hamas has not yet responded.

Meanwhile, Al Hayat reported that the German mediator met with Egypt's intelligence chief. However, Palestinian sources said there had been no breakthroughs or new agreements.

The paper also reported that Hamas closed down the Gaza smuggling tunnels at Egypt's request last week, following warnings that groups were trying to kidnap an Israeli citizen and smuggle him or her from Sinai into Gaza through one of the tunnels.

"Egypt informed us that an Israeli might be missing, so we acted accordingly and shut down the tunnels," a senior Hamas source said.

Abducting Israelis in Sinai would harm Egypt, and Hamas isn't interested in doing that, he said.

Noam Shalit participated yesterday in a Dimona dialogue about Staff Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, the tank driver who was killed in the attack in which Gilad Shalit was abducted.

The abducted soldier's grandfather, Zvi Shalit, whose son Yoel was killed in the Yom Kippur War, took part in Memorial Day ceremonies yesterday. Zvi Shalit didn't conceal his disappointment that his grandson had still not returned home.

"We waited on Passover, the festival of freedom, and Gilad didn't return, and now Independence [Day] and again no Gilad, so when? I ask the prime minister," he said. He also expressed support for a procession in Jerusalem organized by his grandson's advocates, who had been criticized for holding it too close to Memorial Day. The procession ended at the Prime Minister's Office.

In Kiryat Motzkin, about 1,000 people formed a human chain in the town's main street to call for the soldier's release. The event was initiated by city residents, and publicized via Facebook.