February 3, 2010 |
The camera zooms in on the face of an actor portraying a captive Israeli soldier as he reads a prepared statement. "My captors are treating me well," says the anxious young man, who is meant to remind viewers of Gilad Shalit, a soldier held by Islamist militants for more than three years. "They are letting me drink and giving me food." A rifle barrel slowly peeks into the picture frame, and he quickly adds, "Kosher food." The camera pans back to reveal that the kidnappers are not Palestinian terrorists, but Orthodox Jewish settlers, who are holding the soldier until the government allows them to continue building homes in the West Bank.
December 21, 2009 |
An underground barrier to prevent tunneling by smugglers along Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip has been dubbed a "wall of shame" by Arab writers and politicians who charge that Cairo is siding with Israel in isolating the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the seaside enclave. Construction on the 100-foot-deep steel wall began a few weeks ago, but the Egyptian government didn't publicly acknowledge the project until the weekend. Officials defended the effort against accusations that it was an affront to Palestinians by the government of President Hosni Mubarak, which opposes Hamas, the militant group ruling Gaza.
November 24, 2009 |
Expectations of a swap of hundreds of jailed Palestinian militants for an Israeli soldier held by Hamas soared Monday after some of the most promising signs of progress in years of negotiations. Citing the sensitivity of indirect talks with its bitter enemy, the Israeli government imposed silence on its officials and unusually tight censorship on news media to try to keep the details of an emerging agreement under wraps. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip played down the likelihood of an imminent deal, even as other officials on both sides fueled speculation of one. "The light has dawned," Ahmad Bahar, a Hamas official who is deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament, declared to a group of relatives of Palestinian prisoners.
October 3, 2009 |
On a day of high emotion for both sides in the Middle East conflict, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza joyously welcomed home 19 female prisoners, exchanged with Israel for a video proving that an Israeli soldier captured three years ago and held in a clandestine jail is alive and well. The video of Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit was televised by Israeli channels hours after officials judged it to be authentic, riveting an Israeli public that has followed the 23-year-old soldier's ordeal with deep anxiety.
October 1, 2009 |
Shortly after he was seized by Palestinian militants, Gilad Shalit wrote of his ordeal as an "intolerable and inhumane nightmare." The letter, one of just three the captive Israeli soldier has been allowed to write, appealed to authorities to bring him home from his "closed and solitary prison" in the Gaza Strip. Wednesday, after more than three years of indirect negotiations for his freedom, Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers reported the first tentative step toward a deal -- the exchange of 20 female Palestinian prisoners for a recent videotape as proof of Shalit's well-being.
June 24, 2009 |
Israel freed the most senior Hamas leader in its prisons Tuesday after prosecutors failed to persuade a military court to prolong his three-year sentence. The release of Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Authority parliament, fed speculation that Israel was on the verge of a deal to secure the return of a captured soldier in exchange for hundreds of Hamas prisoners.
March 18, 2009 |
The split screen seemed to capture Israel's mood of frustration over its setbacks in recent years. On one side, television viewers saw the somber face of Ehud Olmert as he addressed them Tuesday evening for perhaps the last time as prime minister. His message: Marathon efforts to win the release of a captured soldier had failed. The other side showed the soldier's dejected parents as they listened from a tent outside Olmert's residence.
March 5, 2009 |
One of Jerusalem's most conspicuous new landmarks is a big white tent erected for an Israeli soldier. Children's drawings line its walls, but the most poignant display is a three-digit number, visible to motorists on busy Azza Street, that changes daily. Wednesday was Day 983 since Gilad Shalit was seized along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip.
December 12, 2008 |
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said it might not be possible to win freedom for a soldier captured by Gaza-based militants more than two years ago. It was the first time an Israeli leader admitted in public that efforts to free Sgt. Gilad Shalit might fail. He was captured in June 2006. She told high school students, "All of us want Gilad to return home, but it is not always possible to bring everyone home."
October 25, 2008 |
The Palestinian militant group Hamas has passed on a letter to captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from his family, his father Noam and a Hamas spokesman said. It was the first letter to reach him from his family, although Shalit has been able to send a trickle of messages home since he was snatched by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid near the Gaza Strip in June 2006. The letter was given to the soldier last month, Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said. Noam Shalit said the letter was "personal" and did not detail its contents.