Israel Reaches Deal With Hamas to Free Captured Soldier

Posted October 11th, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Israel Radio says the government has reached a deal with the Palestinian militant group Hamas to free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The radio also reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet is meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the prospective exchange of Palestinian prisoners for the soldier, whom Hamas captured on June 25, 2006. Details of the plan are unknown at this time.

Hamas has demanded that Israel free thousands of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons in exchange for Shalit. Israel so-far has objected to Hamas demands for the release of some militants convicted of deadly attacks on Israelis.

Meanwhile, the United States says the Middle East Quartet is calling for peace talks among Israelis and Palestinians in Jordan on October 23.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday the request came after Quartet diplomats met on Sunday. She said the U.S., which is part of the Quartet along with the European Union, United Nations and Russia, is “hopeful that both parties will take up that offer.”

Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli troops outside a jail near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The protesters were demonstrating in solidarity with Palestinian inmates who have gone on a hunger strike over poor prison conditions. Soldiers fired tear gas as protesters hurled stones and other objects at the troops. Several people were injured.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have joined the hunger strike that started two weeks ago. More than 6,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails for crimes ranging from killing Israelis to stone-throwing.

Israeli officials call the prison conditions satisfactory and say they may resort to force-feeding those on a hunger strike.