Gilad Shalit 298 ch 10.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Hamas will resume its efforts to try to kidnap Israeli soldiers to trade them for Palestinians held in Israeli jails, Khalil Abu Lailah, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said Thursday.
Earlier this week, the armed wing of Hamas, Izaddin Kassam, denied Israeli allegations that its members had planned to kidnap an IDF soldier on Independence Day.
But Abu Lailah, who is a top political leader of Hamas, confirmed that his movement had plans to abduct soldiers.
"Hamas's decision to kidnap Israeli soldiers is not just a threat," he said. "For us, this is a strategic issue aimed at securing the release of all our prisoners from Israeli jails. Hamas has made it very clear that it will continue to kidnap Israeli soldiers until our prisoners are freed. By keeping our people in Israeli jails, Israel will lose more soldiers."
Abu Lailah stressed that as far as Hamas is concerned, the "cease-fire" with Israel does not exist any more. "The cease-fire is dead because of the continued Israeli crimes against our people," he said.
He also criticized Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for saying that this week's rocket attacks on Israel were an exceptional case that would not be repeated. "Hamas will continue to fire rockets as long as Israel continues its atrocities," the Hamas official said. "Abbas should have said that the rocket attacks were a natural response by Hamas to the Israeli crimes. Abbas should have called on [Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert to stop his aggression on our people."
Leaders of various Palestinian factions were now demanding that any new cease-fire with Israel include the West Bank in addition to the Gaza Strip, PA officials in Ramallah said.
According to the officials, the factions made the demand during meetings with Egyptian security officials who were acting as mediators between the Palestinians and Israel.
"If Israel wants to return to the period of calm, it must stop its military operations against our people in the West Bank," said Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan. "The Palestinians want a cease-fire, but Israel keeps launching military operations in the West Bank because it is not interested in calming the situation."
A top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post that Fatah and Islamic Jihad were responsible for most of the rocket attacks on Israel in the past 48 hours.
Four armed groups belonging to Fatah - Defenders of the Aksa, the Rocket Division, the Brigades of Martyr Hassan Madhoun and the Saeqa Unit - confirmed that their members were behind the latest attacks.
The groups called on their followers to be on alert to foil any attempt by the IDF to invade the Gaza Strip. "We will turn the Gaza Strip into a graveyard for the Israelis if they invade the area," the groups said in a joint leaflet. "There will never be a truce with the enemy because they only understand the language of force and rifles."
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said a truce with Israel was in the interest of the Palestinians. "We want a mutual and simultaneous cease-fire with Israel with international guarantees," he said. "Only then can we start talking about a political horizon."
Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are expected to hold talks in Cairo over the weekend to discuss ways of calming the situation and reconstructing the PLO. The two were invited to Cairo by Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman. At the talks, the two will also discuss ways of ending the growing state of anarchy and lawlessness in the PA-controlled areas and resolving the crisis that erupted between Fatah and Hamas following the resignation of Interior Minister Hani Kawassmeh.