Abducted Israeli soldier appears in videotape

TEL AVIV/TORONTO [PeterPaul.ca] — A newly released videotape of an abducted Israeli soldier has been delivered to his family following its authentication by Israeli officials, the Israeli Defence Forces [IDF] announced Friday.

Appearing in the first video since his June 26, 2006, abduction, Sgt. Gilad Shalit, now 23, appears calm and healthy with neatly trimmed hair. He says his captors are treating him “fine.”

The video, hand delivered to his family by Israel’s Human Resources director on Friday, was reviewed by Israeli officials before any Palestinians were released — which was part of the deal in return for a “proof of life” video of Shalit — the IDF said.

Following the videos authentication, 19 female Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli jails — 18 of them were moved back to Judea and Samaria — one to the Gaza Strip, Israel confirmed on Friday.

In the video, Shalit is dressed in green military fatigues.

He is seen reading a Palestinian newspaper “in order to find information about myself, and I hope to find information about my release and return home soon,” he said.

A few minutes into the message, Shalit holds the paper up to the camera — which then zooms in on the date — September 14, 2009.

“I want to send my regards to my family, to tell them that I love them and miss them a lot, and yearn for the day that I will see them,” Shalit said.

“I want to tell you that I am feeling well in terms of health and that the mujahideen from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas‘s armed wing) are treating me excellently,” he added.

“I hope the current government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu will not waste this opportunity to finalize the deal and that as a result I will finally be able to realize my dream and be released.”

The soldiers abduction, which followed a Palestinian attack which killed two other Israeli soldiers, triggered Operation “Summer Rains” which began on June 28 after Israeli forces invaded the Gaza Strip in search of Sgt. Shalit.

The five month war failed to locate the kidnapped soldier. Two IDF soldiers, two Israeli civilians and 270 Palestinian “terror operatives” were killed during the ensuing operation, the IDF said.

Reports at the time said about 1,700 civilians were killed during the war.

View the Shalit video here [in Hebrew]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDAsGS_gOeI

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