Gaza City: Hamas officials were hashing out a
strategy with Egyptian intelligence officers on Saturday how to
transfer an Israeli soldier they have held captive for the
past five years to Israel, a senior Hamas official said.
How to transfer Sgt Gilad Schalit is expected to be the
trickiest part of a prisoner swap deal announced Tuesday that
will see Israel release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in
exchange for the soldier, who Hamas-backed militants have kept
in hiding since capturing him in a 2006 cross-border raid.
Keeping the soldier`s place of captivity a secret for the
past five years is widely recognised as a significant
achievement for Hamas and the other Palestinian factions that
helped seized him, and the groups are wary of spoiling that
success with a false step now.
Hamas officials discussed the issue with Egyptian
intelligence figures in Cairo today, a senior Hamas official
said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised
to brief the press.
He would not say what strategy was agreed upon; only that
"different scenarios" were under consideration.
The general plan, however, is to transfer Schalit from
Hamas custody to Egypt, and Cairo would then hand the soldier
over to Israel.
The International Committee of the Red Cross will be
present for Schalit`s hand over. But the organisation will not
have a role in ferrying him out of Gaza, the official said.