Ismail Haniyeh talks to his supporters during a Hamas rally in Gaza City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has denied the rumors about an approaching prisoner deal between Israel and Hamas regarding the return of Oron Saul and Hadar Goldin, the two Israeli soldiers whose bodies have been held by the terrorist group after they were killed during the 2014 Gaza war.
In a speech marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Tuesday, Haniyeh charged that Israel must free the Palestinian prisoners who were released in the 2011 exchange and later rearrested before another deal is sealed.
"The resistance is able to conclude a prisoner exchange, but we will not start any negotiations until the enemy fulfills his previous commitments and releases all Palestinian prisoners who were part of the Schalit deal," he said.
Israeli released more than 1,000 predominantly Palestinian and Arab-Israeli prisoners in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who had been held captive by Hamas for five years. According to the Palestinians, Israel rearrested about 50 former prisoners released in the Schalit deal in the summer of 2014.
In addition, Haniyeh fiercely criticized ISIS for diverting the Arab world's attention away from the Palestinian issue by carrying out terror attacks in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
"The blind killing and the bloody explosions that hit the heart of the nation in Medina and at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul represent a deviation of the compass of our nation's struggle against its Zionist enemy," Haniyeh said.
"We oppose killing, extremist thought and bloody explosions and believe that any war that takes place outside Jerusalem is purposeless," Haniyeh added.