Hamas has turned down a deal to exchange up to 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in return for captured soldier Gilad Shalit, Egypt's foreign minister said in remarks broadcast Monday.
"It is regrettable that the soldier was kidnapped and there was no intention to exchange him," Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the Arab satellite TV station Al-Arabiya.
"Egypt succeeded in reaching an approval on the release of women, children, elders and men who spent long years in jail and the deal was to release 900 or 1,000 Palestinians. The answer was no," Aboul Gheit said.
Israel has warned that it would launch military operations in Gaza if Shalit is not released before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in about three weeks.