Gilad Schalit's release could have been negotiated earlier but was delayed due to Israeli inflexibility, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said in an interview with Channel 10 news on Sunday evening.
According to Zahar, the prisoner swap was made successful by Israel's decision to release VIP prisoners, something it had refused to do previously.
Schalit's captivity was useful to the Palestinians, he continued, as it was the only way they could effectively secure the release of their prisoners from Israel. Hamas, however, will not continue to kidnap Israeli soldiers, he clarified.
Addressing questions about Schalit's health, Zahar explained that he had been treated according to "Islamic norms" of hospitality and Hamas had cared for its prisoner better than Israel does its Palestinian detainees.
In a message to Noam Schalit, Zahar said that it was important to Hamas that Gilad was being returned to his family but that Noam's support of the blockade on Gaza was not ethical and had hurt the Palestinian cause.