BETHLEHEM — The Hamas-affiliated Ar-Risala website reported Wednesday that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has decided to fast during Ramadan.
The report comes as talks have stalled between Hamas and Israel over the possible exchange of hundreds of prisoners for Shalit, who was captured in a 2006 raid.
The report seemed to be intended to increase pressure on the Israeli government, whose prime minister has faced criticism over his perceived failure to prioritize reaching a deal with Hamas.
“A popular proverb goes that if one lives in a community for more 40 days, he becomes one of them. This seems to have come true in the Gaza Strip,” the report in Ar-Risala said.
After years in Gaza, Shalit has become “embarrassed to ask for food during Ramadan despite the fact that his captors do not deny him that right,” the report, in Arabic, continued.
Shalit thinks the government “lost interest,” it said, and he “abandoned Jewish traditions to mimic Muslims after the good treatment he received from his captors, even while they are fasting.”
The Israeli government, added Ar-Risala, is too busy with the demonstrations and protests in Tel Aviv, and so Shalit could not hear recently on Israel’s Channel 1 TV station any news about him.
The report claims Shalit noticed the protests against housing problems became too big, and that caused him “depression and disappointment. He lost hope of any prisoner swap deal that can secure his freedom.”
He seems to be saying, “Shalit wants to topple the regime,” the report claimed.
Shalit was captured by Hamas and other Palestinian factions on June 25, 2006 in a cross-border raid by Palestinian fighters near the Kerem Shalom crossing east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
He has remained captive through two governments and a devastating war on Gaza. Efforts have been exerted by Egyptian, German and Western mediators to try and finalize a prisoner swap.
Israel decided recently to toughen imprisonment conditions of Palestinian inmates in an attempt to put pressure on Hamas to give up on some of the conditions they stipulated for a prisoner swap.
The Red Cross has criticized Hamas’ refusal to allow Shalit visitors and other rights typically afforded to prisoners of war. Hamas says agreeing to these requests would compromise the soldier’s location.
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