, JERUSALEM, Oct 17 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that talks aimed at releasing a captured soldier held by Hamas in its Gaza enclave have resumed after nearly a year-long hiatus.
"The contacts for the release of Gilad Shalit have resumed… There are many discrete efforts," Netanyahu told army radio, without elaborating.
An Israeli official confirmed on condition of anonymity that "efforts to release Gilad Shalit continue," but also declined to provide further details.
Hamas spokesmen declined to comment on Netanyahu\’s remarks.
The radical Islamist group and other Palestinian militants captured Shalit, now 24, in a deadly cross-border raid in June 2006 and have demanded hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including top militants, in exchange for his release.
Israel had been struggling to reach a deal through Egyptian and German mediation, but the indirect talks ground to a halt late last year when Hamas refused to formally respond to an Israeli offer.
Each side has blamed the other for the failed negotiations.
Shalit\’s father Noam, also interviewed by army radio, said he was not aware of any new talks with Hamas.
"There is no progress, and everything is blocked. There are efforts, but nothing new because, ultimately, the prime minister has to take the right decisions," he said.