As the parents of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit mark their fourth Passover without their son, Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange talks that would release Sgt. Shalit have reportedly broken down over internal Hamas disagreements.
Gaza City, Gaza
Nearly four years after Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit – and months after the two sides were reportedly on the verge of finalizing an agreement for his release – talks to secure the soldier’s release appear to be stalled indefinitely.
A Fatah strongman and bitter enemy of Hamas, Mohammed Dahlan, was quoted in a Jordanian newspaper this week as saying that negotiations collapsed as a result of an internal split within the Hamas leadership over the terms of the deal.
The deal, if finalized, would reportedly have released Shalit in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including militants such as Wafa al-Biss – a young woman arrested on the Gaza-Israel border in 2005 with 20 pounds of explosives sewn into her underwear.
But it appears that both Shalit's parents, which this week mark their fourth Passover without their 23-year-old son, and the family of Ms. Biss, who have laid out an array of cosmetics, a hairbrush, and new furniture in anticipation of her return, will continue to wait.
Hamas leaders in Gaza deny claims of strife within the Islamist movement, which seized control of Gaza after routing its secular rival Fatah from the territory in 2007, saying Israel is to blame for the stalled talks with its “unacceptable offer.”