(photo credit: AP)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Monday that the demands in order to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit will only grow.
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"Gilad will not be the only one," Mashaal said at a Palestinian students' conference in Damascus, "We will kidnap more soldiers, including officers. We will not free Schalit until Netanyahu gives in to our just demands."
Mashall spoke as Schalit's parents continued their "Freedom March," from their home in Mitzpe Hila to Jerusalem, meant to pressure the government to meet Hamas’s demands for their son’s release.
Mashaal said "Israel is responsible for the failure in negotiations," and relayed a message to the German mediator: "If you come to the negotiations table again with Netanyahu's demands - don't come, stay where you are."
He said to Netanyahu: "We will not repeat our requests over and over. You know the list, and we will not change it."
The Hamas leader added: "We will not be flexible in our demands. As time goes by, our demands will grow, and so will the price. Israel is America's lackey, that wants to strengthen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas], and therefore is the real one to blame for the failure in negotiations."
Mashaal also connected the captive soldier to the Gaza flotilla
incidents. "Breaking the blockade on Gaza is at the top of our
priorities, and we need to force it in any way, including new
"Israel knows the damage its image has faced after the massacre on the
freedom flotilla," Mashaal explained, "and she is trying to gain
international sympathy through Schalit. Leaders in the region should
know that the angry world will not accept the fact that they continue to
be Israel's allies. The countdown to Israel's demise has begun."
Also Monday, Mahmoud Zahar, a major Hamas figure in Gaza, warned that Israel should expect more flotillas over the next two months, in an interview with British paper The Independent
. Zahar was quoted as saying "after the Mondial [World Cup] at least eight ships will come from the Gulf," but did not specify which states.
In connection to Schalit, Zahar said: "up to this moment, the Israeli intention is not to have an agreement."
Mashaal also commented on the recent riots in Silwan, saying that
"Jerusalem is in danger of being neglected by Palestinian and Arab
officials. We praise the residents of Silwan that confronted the enemy,
and we bless the Jerusalemite families that defended their national