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some thoughts on the Gilad Shalit video…

October 4, 2009

As was reported yesterday, HAMAS released a video of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 20 female Palestinian prisoners, seen below on Israeli TV:

Some thoughts:

1. An Absence of Propaganda: The video lacked the usual irritating agitprop of most political hostage videos.  Rather, it was a pretty conciliatory message, according to the transcript, given that Shalit was reading directly from a script.

Also, there were no banners or hooded gunmen in the background, unlike the various Gaza hostage videos of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston from 2007.  HAMAS could have shown him in shackles, or wrapped in a Palestinian flag or something, but chose not to.  That unto itself is worth noting.

2. He might be released soon: I was intrigued by this particular line:

I hope that the current administration, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu won’t waste this opportunity to achieve a deal, and as a result I will finally be able to realize my dream and be released.

Is a deal finally at hand?   Why would he say “opportunity” if there wasn’t something in the cards? He’s reading from a script that presumably was written and edited by HAMAS personnel.

3.  He looks generally pretty good:  For a hostage who has presumably been moved from house to house over the last three years, Shalit seems in decent shape.  His teeth aren’t broken, and although he looks gaunt, he doesn’t seem too terribly mistreated.  And he still retains a sense of humor – when he says, “I want to tell you that I feel well, in terms of health, and the Mujahideen, of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, are treating me wonderfully” you see him suppressing a smile.

4.  HAMAS has money to spare: Despite the well-publicized privatizations of Gaza residents, HAMAS publishes a newspaper in color?

Late breaking news:

HAMAS is crediting President Jimmy Carter for the latest breakthrough:

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar credited former U.S. president Jimmy Carter with a central role in brokering a deal between Israel and Hamas which saw 20 female Palestinian prisoners traded for a video of captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit , Channel 10 reported Saturday.

Speaking to the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al Quds al-Arabi, Zahar said that that it was Israel who asked the former U.S. president to take an active role in the negotiations between the sides.

Carter, if one recalls, was pilloried for meeting with HAMAS leaders in January 2009 and saying “they can be trusted.”  Perhaps his intercession might begin to pay dividends?

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