Gulf & Middle East
Israel confirms progress in talks about release of Shalit
Apr 8, 2007 - 4:57:31 PM

Tel Aviv, April 8 - Israel confirmed reports Sunday about progress in its attempts to secure the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, a soldier snatched by Palestinian militants almost nine months ago during a cross border raid from the Gaza Strip.

However, there was still a long way to go before a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians could take place, Israel Radio reported, quoting an unnamed government source.

According to Israeli media reports, the radical Islamic Hamas movement has via Egyptian negotiators handed Israel the names of 450 Palestinian prisoners, whose release they demand in exchange for Shalit.

A team of the Israeli Shin Bet internal security organization was scrutinizing each case individually, reports said. Marwan Barghouti, a senior leader of the Fatah movement who surrendered to the Israelis in 2002, was on the list, the reports said. Israel could agree to Barghouti's release, the Yediot Ahronot daily said Sunday.

However, the list also contained 'murderers, who have blood on their hands' and the government would not consent to their going free, the paper said.

Following the abduction of Shalit on June 25, 2006 Hamas initially demanded the release of more than 1,000 prisoners.

Shalit was taken as three militant organizations attacked an Israeli army outpost near the Gaza Strip. He is believed to have been kept prisoner in the Strip ever since.

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