Years Later Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit Continues to be a Symbolic Bargaining Chip Between Palestine and Israel

June 28, 2011

Israel, Middle East, Palestine

ISRAEL-PALESTINE.—In 2006, Gilad Shalit was taken by armed combatants of Hamas in a cross- border conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Negotiations for Shalit’s release have failed numerous times over the last few years, particularly over the details of the prisoner exchange.

Hamas is demanding the release of all female and underage Palestinian prisoners, as well as individuals they allege to be innocent of any charges. Israel refuses to release many on the list claiming them guilty.

While Netanyahu has expressed frustration with the progress, he has made it quite clear that a deal cannot be made and negotiations will not suffice.

Gilad has become an Israeli national symbol, said to represent the fear of most Israeli citizens, who do obligatory military service.

A videotape was released of Shalit in 2009, in exchange for 20 female Palestinian prisoners. However, since the release of the tape negotiations have continually slowed, largely due to the changing nature of the conflict. The dynamics of the conflict have changed significantly since 2006 when Shalit was first taken.

As both sides continue to enumerate demands, Gilad Shalit will almost certainly continue to serve as an emblematic negotiation centerpiece between the two factions.

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