Audio tape released of missing Israeli soldier

Monday, June 25, 2007

Photo of Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Image: Shalit Family.

Kidnapped Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 20, is believed to be alive, and Hamas has released an audio tape in which Shalit says he needs to be hospitalized and that he regrets that Israel has not met the demands of the kidnappers.

"I have been in prison for an entire year and my health is deteriorating. I need lengthy hospitalisation. I regret the lack of interest of the Israeli government and military in my case and their failure to meet the demands. Just as I have parents, a mother and father, thousands of Palestinian detainees have mothers and fathers whose sons must be returned to them. I have a great hope from my government that it show more interest in me and meet the demands of the Mujahideen (kidnappers)," said Shalit on the audio tape.

Noam Shalit, Gilad's father says that he is "almost sure" that the voice on the tape is that of his son, but also states that "we cannot know when it was recorded. I imagine that it's the same as the letter they dictated to him and doesn't reflect his real state. We want somebody independent to see him, to examine him and the conditions under which he is held, his medical condition of course and his mental (condition)."

Israeli officials believe that the kidnappers told Shalit what to say during the audio recording and that the Israeli government will not cooperate with the group.

"How cruel can Hamas be? We will not cooperate with Hamas. We will not compromise with Hamas," said Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Hamas states that Israel had every chance to swap prisoners to release Shalit, but that Israel has to act.

"We have been flexible in every possible way when it came to a swap deal, but the Israeli side was too weak to make a decision. The ball is now in the Israeli court," said Osama al-Muzaini, a senior official for Hamas.

Shalit was kidnapped exactly one year ago today on June 25, 2006. He was kidnapped in Gaza City which sparked a month long war between Lebanon and Israel.