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Hamas Releases Audio Tape of Captured Israeli Soldier


Hamas Islamic militants on Monday released an audio tape of an Israeli soldier captured one year ago today on the Gaza Strip border. VOA's Jim Teeple has details from our Jerusalem bureau.

Gilad Shalit was captured one year ago Monday by Hamas militants, and militants from two other Palestinian groups who tunneled under the Gaza Strip border and attacked an Israeli post.

Now, one year later Hamas has released an audio tape of Shalit, who calls on the Israeli government to meet Palestinian demands for a large scale prisoner swap.

Shalit says unfortunately he has come to believe that the Israeli government and the Israeli Army are not interested in a prisoner exchange, but he says he still holds out hope one will take place. He also says he is in failing health, but did not provide details.

Shalit's father who heard the tape Monday says the voice on the tape is his son's and that it sounded like he was coerced into making the statement. Since his capture Shalit has been promoted from Corporal to Sergeant.

Hamas officials say Shalit is in good health and is being treated well. They also called on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners saying Israel is holding women, children and elderly Palestinians -- and many who have already served long sentences.

Earlier this year Hamas demanded the release of about 1,400 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for freeing Shalit. Israeli officials said the price was too high and paying it would reward terrorism.

Shalit's capture last year prompted Israel to launch a major ground offensive in Gaza that failed to free Shalit. Last November Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza and a truce went into effect between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.