Hamas stalls talks on trade for Israeli soldier, raises stakes
debkafile‘s military sources report that last week, Israel’s negotiator Ofer Dekel returned from Cairo empty-handed. Prospects for the release of Gilead Shalit, two years after his abduction in a cross border raid from Gaza, had receded and, two weeks after it went into effect, the Gaza truce accord was back on the table.
In his report to prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak.
Dekel explained that both Egypt and Hamas had failed to uphold the terms of the ceasefire accord. Hamas had in fact raised the stakes:
1. Resumption of the Shalit negotiating track was now contingent on fully reopening the Rafah border crossing from Gaza to Sinai. Egypt partially opened the terminal Sunday, July 1.
2. Egypt must release three Hamas commanders jailed in Sinai since January when the terrorist group smashed through the border wall. This must taken place immediately, before negotiations can resume on the Israeli soldier. Our military sources report that the senior of the trio is Ayman Nofal, commander of the Khan Younes Brigade of southern Gaza.
To cover the breakdown, Israeli officials have spread the word that talks for a swap of prisoners with Hamas have been speeded up.
Cairo has also indulged in misdirection. A report appeared Tuesday, July 1, in the Al Ahram newspaper claiming Hamas had handed over a video clip of Gilead Shalit showing he was alive.This was described by our military sources as an attempt by Egyptian intelligence minister Omar Suleiman to generate the false impression that Cairo was standing by its commitments under the truce-Shalit bargain he brokered between Hamas and Israel.
The ministry of defense political coordinator Amos Gilead is sharply criticized in high-placed military circles for selling the government an untenable Gaza truce deal brokered by Cairo for the second time in two years. It was clear from the start that neither Egypt nor Hamas, in obedience to its Iranian and Syrian sponsors, were about to uphold the terms which mattered most to Israel, a fast track on prisoner negotiations and a halt on the flow of smuggled arms reaching Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.
The former is stalled. As for the latter, Cairo has not raised a finger to slow the arms smuggling, which now include new anti-air guns and missiles.