Rome Gives Honorary Citizenship to Gilad Shalit, Hamas Says Price for Release Will Only Go Up


shalit-fatherRome has given honorary citizenship to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by militants linked to Gaza’s militant Islamic Hamas group three years ago. Shalit’s father, Noam Shalit, received the honor at a city hall ceremony today. A giant photo of the soldier hung in the piazza, with the words Rome wants its citizen Gilad Shalit free – words Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno repeated at the evening ceremony. The city council voted to give Shalit honorary citizenship to coincide with tomorrow’s third anniversary of his capture by militants in a cross-border raid from Gaza into Israel.

Hamas source: Price for Shalit will only go up
Significant progress has been made in the negotiations to free Gilad Shalit, but that progress is not enough to seal the deal – a Hamas official told Ynet today. The source warned against reaching a dead end in the talks, saying the situation could rapidly deteriorate and the captive Israeli soldier could end up being held in the Gaza Strip for years on end.According to the source, the Israeli side is holding back the talks by stalling over technical details and going back to review the names of Palestinian prisoners whose release has already been agreed on. The Hamas source acknowledged that Israel’s approach is more earnest than before, but that the exchange deal is still not viable at present time.

He added that Hamas is preparing for all possible scenarios, including a complete meltdown of the negotiations – which, he said, would lead to Shalit being imprisoned in Gaza for an untold number of years.

“The Israelis know what our demands are, they keep trying to improve their standing and still haven’t internalized that for three years we have not budged. The price will only go up as time passes, whether we are talking about days, weeks, months or years, the Israelis will pay the price we demand, if not more because of the their stubbornness,” the source said.

Noam Shalit took part in a meeting held by the Kadima party earlier this week, where he heard from MK Shaul Mofaz that the Olmert government could have done more to secure his son’s release. ”

{Yair Israel/Ynet and AP contributed to this report}