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Israel, Abbas Pressure Hamas to Return Soldier

Israeli tanks amass along with ground troops and artillery near Kibbutz Mefalsim at the Israeli border with Gaza Strip.
Menahem Kahana
/
Getty Images
Israeli tanks amass along with ground troops and artillery near Kibbutz Mefalsim at the Israeli border with Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials work to gain the release of a soldier who was seized by Palestinian militants during a guerrilla raid in southern Israel on Sunday. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is warning of a major incursion into the Gaza Strip unless Palestinian authorities hand over the abducted soldier.

Olmert says he has ruled out bargaining with the soldier's captors; he has promised a "broad and ongoing" military offensive.

Israeli tanks and armored infantry units are massing near the southern border with the Gaza Strip. And intensive diplomatic efforts continued to try to gain the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, who was captured in an attack on an Israeli border post by a group of militants, including members of Hamas, which now leads the Palestinian government.

The three groups who claim to be holding Shalit have demanded the release of all Palestinian women and children under 18 in Israeli jails. Israel's leaders say they will not negotiate.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he has launched a wide-ranging diplomatic effort to gain the soldier's release, turning to the Hamas-led government for help in pressuring the militants.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eric Westervelt is a San Francisco-based correspondent for NPR's National Desk. He has reported on major events for the network from wars and revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa to historic wildfires and terrorist attacks in the U.S.