freedom march 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Saturday he was prepared to return to
negotiations over the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has
been held by Hamas in Gaza for the last four years.
between Israel and Hamas broke down at the end of last year, when Israel refused
to include all the prisoners Hamas had demanded on its list of 1,000
Palestinians that it was willing to release for Schalit.
Aviva Schalit: Government determined cost
15,000 join Schalit family march
said that some of them were too dangerous to be freed, but has offered alternative
Mashaal said Hamas would not back down from its
“If one soldier isn’t enough to release our prisoners, we will
do everything to capture more soldiers,” he said.
He spoke as the Schalit
family is in the midst of an 11-day trek to Jerusalem in hopes of forcing
Netanyahu to finalize a deal for their son’s release.
In response the
Schalit’s “Freedom March,” the families of Palestinian prisoners jailed in
Israel have planned a march of their own to take place in the Gaza Strip on
The prisoners’ families are expected to march to the house of
Hamas official Mahmoud a- Zahar.
The march’s organizer, The Supreme
Committee for Prisoners in Gaza, will demand that Hamas leadership insist that
all of the prisoners on Hamas’s original Schalit exchange list be freed in a
deal for the kidnapped soldier.
Netanyahu, in an interview with Channel 1
on Friday, said he sympathized with the Schalit family, but as prime minister he
could not pay any price to free their son if it would lead to the deaths of
“A day does not go by when I do not work for Gilad’s
release. When I meet with [Gilad’s parents] Noam and Aviva and his grandfather
Tzvi, I think of the suffering they are going through.
For four years no
one has seen him,” said Netanyahu.
He made reference to his brother Yoni,
who was killed during the 1976 rescue mission in Entebbe.
“I think of my
brother; what would I not do for his return?” said Netanyahu. “I can understand
the call of a father or mother who wants their son back. There is no price that
a mother or father won’t pay.
“I will pay a heavy price. We will free
1,000 security prisoners, including terrorists, but we won’t agree to the
suggestion that they enter the area of Judea and Samaria,” said
From there, he said, they can get anywhere in Israel to
execute terror attacks, he said.
In the past, he said, those who were
freed, turned around and committed terror attacks that killed Israelis. As a
prime minister he has to weigh the nation’s responsibility to free captive
soldiers against its responsibility to prevent the possible deaths of Israelis
in future terror attacks.
On Friday, 20,000 people joined the Schalit
family as they marched in the Netanya area.
Some 14,000 rallied with them
in the evening as they held a protest outside Netanyahu’s residence in
Aviva Schalit, Gilad’s mother, opened the ceremony by saying
“thousands of people who have supported us and marched with us over the
week stand behind us.”
Aviva responded to a speech by Netanyahu on
Thursday, in which he said that Israel would not pay any price for the
“We never asked for release at all costs; the cost was
determined by the Israeli government.
Now we are saying enough,” said
The family rested for Shabbat and plans to resume its march on
Sunday morning. It will reach Jerusalem on Thursday.Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.