Hamas releases first ever audio message from captive Israeli soldier

UPDATED: 20:33, June 25, 2007

Hamas armed wing, the Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, released on Monday an audio message for the Israeli captive corporal Gilad Shalit to mark the one-year anniversary for his abduction.

The message said, "I'm the soldier Gilad Naom Shalit, held by Martyr Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades.

"Dad, Mom... Brothers and sisters... My colleagues in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF); I send you greetings from my jail, and I'm yearning to see all of you.

"I have completed a year in captivity; my health condition is still deteriorated and I need chronical treatment in hospital.

"I'm sorry that the Israeli government and the IDF are not interested in my case and their neglecting of al-Qassam's demands though they should comply with the demands to get me freed from my prison, especially as I am on a military mission with a military order. I am not a drug dealer.

"Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have mothers and fathers as I do and they must reunite with them.

"My hope is big that my government will take care of me and respond to the Mujahedeen's demands." said Shalit in the message, which could be downloaded from the website of the Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades.

Earlier, a spokesman for the captors said Shalit was alive and healthy.

It was the first time that Hamas released a recorded message since its armed wing, along with another two armed groups, kidnapped Shalit in an armed attack on an Israeli army base in southeastern Gaza Strip.

Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and the Army of Islam still stick to their demands to exchange the soldier for a number of Palestinian prisoners, said Abu Mujahed, the PRC spokesman.

The three groups kidnapped the Israeli Corporal a year ago in a cross border raid on his military base just a few kilometers behind the security fence between Israel and Gaza.

The factions "insist on their humanitarian demands of freeing female prisoners, children, patients, old, leaders of factions and those who face long sentences," Abu Mujahed said.

He accused the Israeli government of blocking the progress on Shalit's case by not dealing seriously with the offers that the factions sent through Egyptian mediators.

The Israeli government "returned the progress to the zero point," said Abu Mujahed, adding that the factions can keep the soldiers for years.

Source: Xinhua

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