JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) – Israelis welcomed on Wednesday a major prisoner swap that will free soldier Gilad Shalit after five years in captivity in return for the release of 1,000 Palestinians, but emotions were mixed over the lopsided exchange negotiated with Hamas.
“We are proving, for who knows how many times, that each of our soldiers is a world unto himself, and we will make a supreme effort to bring him home. The deal is a tough one, but it was the best possible to reach in these conditions,” Home Front Security Minister Matan Vilnai told Israeli Radio.
JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) – Prospects of a long-elusive deal with Hamas to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began to take off in July, Israel’s negotiator said on Tuesday.
David Meidan, who did the talking for Israel, said Israeli intelligence identified three months ago that the Islamist movement which rules the Gaza Strip and holds Shalit had become more pragmatic and was ready to do a deal with Egypt as mediator.
GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired guns in the air and blared their car horns on Tuesday to celebrate a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the enclave’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, which will exchange 1,000 Palestinians for Israeli captive Gilad Shalit.
Hailed by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in a speech from Damascus as a “national achievement,” the prisoner swap was the best news Gaza has had for years.
JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) – Israel and Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers agreed on Tuesday to swap more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit, resolving one of the most emotive and intractable issues between them.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking his cabinet to approve the lopsided swap and under constant public pressure to bring Shalit home, said the soldier would be reunited with his family “in the coming days.”
GAZA (Reuters) – Thousands of Gaza teachers quit classes Wednesday to protest at a U.N. refugee agency’s suspension of a Palestinian staffer, raising tension between UNRWA and Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers.
Relations between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and Hamas have been uneasy ever since the Islamists took over the Gaza Strip after a brief civil war with forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement in 2007.
GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinian officials are going public with long-whispered complaints that international Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, is biased toward Israel.
Unofficial suggestions that Blair should now be replaced coincide with a Palestinian drive to secure membership of the United Nations, establishing statehood in the face of strong opposition from Israel and its main backer, the United States.
GAZA (Reuters) – President Mahmoud Abbas’s bid to seek U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state is not generating much enthusiasm in the isolated Gaza Strip, where internal political divisions run deep.
The Islamist Hamas movement, which seized the territory from forces loyal to Abbas’s Fatah group in 2007, sees the move as an exercise in futility in a quest for statehood.
GAZA (Reuters) – Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, agreed to a cease-fire after five days of cross-border violence, officials said on Monday.
Two rockets fired from Gaza a few hours after the deal took effect fell harmlessly in an open area in southern Israel, a military official said. A small militant faction in Gaza, that said it was not a party to the truce, claimed responsibility for the shootings.
GAZA (Reuters) – Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have agreed to a ceasefire after five days of cross-border violence, officials said on Monday.
One official who was involved in mediating talks between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza said the groups had “reached an understanding on a truce and that the truce has started.”
GAZA (Reuters) – Iran has cut back or even stopped its funding of Hamas after the Islamist movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, failed to show public support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats said on Sunday.
Hamas has denied that it is in financial crisis but says it faces liquidity problems stemming from inconsistent revenues from tax collection in the Gaza Strip and foreign aid.