Shalit video ‘shows Ha­mas is se­ri­ous’

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER JERUSALEM

THE MAIN con­clu­sion of Is­raeli ex­perts who viewed the video of Gi­lad Shalit is that Ha­mas is ea­ger to reach a deal on a pris­oner ex­change.

The two-and-a-half minute tape handed by Ha­mas to the Ger­man ne­go­tia­tor last week, and broad­cast on Is­raeli tele­vi­sion last Fri­day, con­firmed the in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ments re­gard­ing Shalit’s con­di­tion.

“Noth­ing we saw there on the tape caused us to fall off our chairs,” said one se­nior de­fence of­fi­cial, fol­low­ing detailed anal­y­sis of Shalit’s ap­pear­ance on cam­era.

“We be­lieved that he was in a good phys­i­cal and men­tal con­di­tion and from the way he ap­peared and spoke on the screen, that seems to be the case.”

From the way Shalit’s eyes moved and the hes­i­ta­tion in his voice, it was ob­vi­ous to the an­a­lysts that there were other peo­ple in the room from whom he was seek­ing af­fir­ma­tion and that he was not even sure that the tape would ac­tu­ally ever be seen by his fam­ily.

The of­fi­cial said that while Shalit was read­ing the Ha­mas news­pa­per that he was hold­ing on the screen, he mis­pro­nounced the name of the group hold­ing him, show­ing that he had not learnt Ara­bic dur­ing his in­car­cer­a­tion and that his cap­tors are speak­ing to him in He­brew.

The other valu­able con­fir­ma­tion was of the will­ing­ness of Ha­mas to com­ply with the de­mands of the Ger­man ne­go­tia­tor.

“You could see in the tape that he had told them ex­actly what was re­quired to pro­vide us with what is called in th­ese sit­u­a­tions, Proof of Life,” ex­plained one Is­raeli ex­pert on hostage sit­u­a­tions, who can­not be named.

“The way Gi­lad moved, the news­pa­per he held, and es­pe­cially the in­clu­sion in his words of a per­sonal story, of how his fam­ily vis­ited him on base on the Golan Heights, a de­tail that only he could know — all th­ese are cru­cial de­tails for us to know that he is OK and has not been brain­washed and that they are not us­ing any of this to ma­nip­u­late us.”

The fact that the Ger­man ne­go­tia­tor suc­ceeded in get­ting Ha­mas to an­swer th­ese de­mands and that the Pales­tinian or­gan­i­sa­tion even com­plied with the de­mand not to broad­cast the tape them­selves, proved also that the Ha­mas rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­volved in the talks are the ones who hold sway.

“Ha­mas is like a hy­dra,” said a se­nior de­fence ad­vi­sor. “There is the lead­er­ship in Da­m­as­cus and then there is the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship in Gaza and the mil­i­tary wing. You never re­ally know who is in con­trol of a spe­cific sit­u­a­tion.

“The fact that the Ha­mas leaders who the ne­go­tia­tor has been speak­ing to could de­liver that tape means we are deal­ing with the right Ha­mas­niks.”

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