Hamas responded Friday to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's declaration that he will take privileges away from Palestinian "terrorists" sitting in Israeli jails, claiming that the move would be illegal.

Spokesman for the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that Netanyahu's plan would be "a violation of international law." The international community, he said, should take action against the "crimes of the occupation."

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Netanyahu on Thursday, speaking at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, said that the revocation of benefits and privileges of terrorists was a response to Hamas's refusal to let the Red Cross visit captive soldier Gilad Schalit.

Hamas countered that "the only way to close the Schalit affair is to release Palestinian prisoners."

The back-and-forth took place ahead of the fifth anniversary of Schalit’s kidnapping by Hamas on the Israeli side of the Gaza border on June 26, 2006.

A Netanyahu spokesman would not clarify which prisoners the prime minister had in mind, but it was broadly assumed that he was referring to Palestinians convicted or being held on terror-related charges or suspicions.

Gilad’s father Noam said in response, “We want to know why Israeli governments waited five years [to take such a step], during which time Gilad languished in a Hamas jail.”

Speaking at the closing event at the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that as a result of Hamas’s renewed declaration Thursday that it won’t allow a Red Cross visit, “I have decided to change Israel’s policy toward terrorists sitting in Israeli jails.”

Earlier in the day the International Committee of the Red Cross had called on Hamas to provide some proof that Schalit, now 24, is alive, as there has been no sign of life in over two years. It also called on Hamas to allow it to visit Schalit.

In rejecting the ICRC call, Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan told news agencies, “The ICRC should have talked about the suffering of 7,000 Palestinian prisoners inside Israel.”

Herb Keinon, Tovah Lazaroff and Reuters contributed to this report

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