Hamas threatens to hold Shalit indefinitely

Hamas has threatened to hold Gilad Shalit indefinitely if Israel does not agree soon to a prisoner exchange.

“The fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit will be the same as the Israeli airman Ron Arad,” said Abu Obaida, a spokesman for Hamas in Gaza, Israel’s Army Radio reported.

Shalit has been held by Hamas in Gaza since he was captured in a cross-border raid in 2006. Arad has been classified as missing in action since he ejected over Lebanon in 1986.

Egypt has been mediating negotiations for Shalit’s release, though according to multiple reports in the Israeli media in recent days, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who is leading the negotiations, has asked Hamas to stop obstructing the deal.

Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin has said that the release of 200 Palestinian prisoners to the West Bank as a good-will gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could create pressure on Hamas and speed up negotiations over Shalit.

But on Monday Diskin told the Cabinet that Hamas, seeing that Israel released prisoners with blood on their hands to Hezbollah recently in the case of two missing soldiers in Lebanon, will hold out for the prisoners it has demanded.

 

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