Iran gives Hamas $50 million to thwart Shalit’s release

Thursday, October 19, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
An Israeli newspaper reported that Iran had transferred $50 million to the Hamas leadership in Damascus in order to thwart the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Yediot Aharanot, Israel’s largest daily newspaper, reported that an agreement was reached on the procedures for Shalit's release two months ago. According to the report, Israel was ready to release Shalit in return for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners "in stages."

However, several days after it seemed that a deal had been reached, an Iranian delegation secretly arrived in Damascus and transferred $50 million to Khaled Mashaal on the condition that he thwart the deal. According to the report, Mashaal then toughened his stance and demanded that Israel release dozens of Palestinian prisoners defined as "tough prisoners."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is on an official visit to Moscow, said that "Israel should not release prisoners at any cost. That would be totally irresponsible."

Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siam said that Syria was not responsible for the failure of the deal for the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.

"It's not true that the Hamas movement is under Syrian pressure to thwart the deal," he said in an article published Thursday morning in the London-based Arabic-Language newspaper al-Hayat.

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