Israel, Hamas Restart Talks on Shalit Release

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Egyptian officials are serving as mediators once again between Israel and Hamas on a prisoner swap to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat reported on Monday.

According to the report, the two sides met in Cairo for the first time last week, with a second meeting planned for Monday. But there has been no progress so far.

The Israeli delegation is being led by Mossad official David Meidan, while Ahmed Jaabari, head of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, the "military" wing of Hamas, heads his team.

The article quoted a Hamas source saying if "Israel displays willingness to pay the price for Shalit, there will be an agreement."

In the past, Hamas has demanded up to 1,000 prisoners -- some serving time for massive terror attacks that killed scores of Israelis -- in exchange for Shalit. The terror group has also said it is plotting future kidnappings of IDF soldiers.

Abu Marzouk, deputy chief of the group's political bureau, said their terms for a deal have not changed.

Shalit has been held captive by Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, since his abduction on June 25, 2005.

A Palestinian terror cell, led by Hamas, tunneled under the border and attacked an Israel Defense Forces outpost near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The terrorists killed two soldiers, injured three and kidnapped Shalit, who has been denied a visit by the International Red Cross, Israeli officials or his family since his capture.

Meanwhile, 50 Israelis blocked a road with a vehicle at the Halukim Junction to prevent a bus carrying family members of Palestinian Arab prisoners to the Nafha Prison on Monday, Channel 10 reported.

The activists hung signs on the bus reading, "Who is visiting Gilad?" and "No Visitation for Gilad, No Visitation for You."

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