Hamas Claims It Thwarted Shalit Rescue

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, claimed to have thwarted efforts to pinpoint the whereabouts of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel's Channel 2 reported on Thursday.

Shalit was kidnapped in a cross-border attack in June 2005 near the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip. Palestinian terrorists tunneled under the security barrier to attack an Israel Defense Forces outpost, killing two soldiers, wounding three, and abducting Shalit.

Egypt's al-Ahram daily broke the story in Thursday's edition.

According to the report, over the past three years an Israeli agent residing in central Gaza maintained close ties with top Hamas officials, including senior commander Ahmed al-Jabari.

The agent allegedly installed bugs in two-way radio/cell phones provided to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, enabling him to monitor calls of senior officials. He also used his close ties with Hamas operatives to probe Shalit's whereabouts.

When one top official suspected he might be an Israeli agent, he warned members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades to get rid of their bugged phones.

According to the report, when Israel learned his cover had been compromised, he was instructed to go to a deserted area where he was rescued by an IDF tank crew.

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