In the first proof that he is alive a year after capture, Hamas militants today released an audio recording of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier seized in a cross-border raid near the Gaza strip. In the message posted on the group's web site, Shalit said a year in prison is taking a toll on his health, and pleaded with the Israeli government to agree to a prisoner swap.
"Just as I have parents, a mother and father, the thousands of Palestinian prisoners have mothers and fathers to whom their sons must be returned," he said. Shalit 's father said in an interview on Ch. 2 television that the he believes the tape was coerced. Red cross workers have not been allowed to see Shalit. Negotiations for a prisoner swap have reached an impasse, with Israel balking at the number and type of prisoner to be released.