For the first time since Gilad Schalit’s abduction in June 2006, Hamas warned on Tuesday that any attempt to worsen the conditions of its men in Israeli jails would have a “negative impact” on the captive IDF soldier.
The warning came in response to a Knesset bill that recently gained government support that would toughen the conditions of the Hamas prisoners.
Editorial: The overdue Schalit bill
The proposal calls for depriving the Hamas men of family visits, television, books, newspapers and the option to pursue academic studies.
“If the Israeli sanctions go into effect, this will have a negative impact on Schalit,” a Hamas official in the Gaza Strip said. “There’s no guarantee that those holding the soldier won’t retaliate.”
The bill would only “complicate” the case of Schalit, the official said.
“Instead of searching for ways to further punish Palestinian prisoners, it would have been better if the Israeli government had accepted the demands of the captors and secured the release of Schalit,” the Hamas official added.
Asked about the status of efforts to agree on a prisoner exchange, he replied: “The negotiations have been suspended because of Israeli intransigence. At times it appeared as if we were very close to reaching an agreement, but the Israeli government always backtracks at the last minute.”
He said Hamas was convinced that the US and the Palestinian Authority
had been pressuring Israel not to strike a deal, for fear that it would
boost the Islamist movement’s standing among Palestinians.
Jamal Nassar, a Hamas legislator in the Gaza Strip, said on Monday that
his movement would treat Schalit “according to what its religion tells
it and in a way that satisfies its God.”
The “Gilad Schalit Bill” reflected the “moral decline” of the Israeli
government and signaled the beginning of its collapse, Nassar said.
Families of Hamas prisoners held in Israel expressed deep concern over
the planned measures. They urged Hamas not to succumb to the pressure
and to stick to its demands. Others called on Schalit’s captors to
respond by worsening Schalit’s conditions.
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