Zahar: Israel will not release more security prisoners

Hamas official tells Ma'an news agency Egypt to ensure Israel frees high profile prisoners, not "chicken thieves," in 2nd stage of Schalit swap.

Hamas kids 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa )
Hamas kids 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa )
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar on Sunday said that Israel will not release top security prisoners in the second phase of the prisoner swap brokered in exchange for Gilad Schalit, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
In an interview with Ma'an, Zahar said that Hamas, although able to choose which prisoners Israel releases in the coming months, would ensure that Egypt speaks on its behalf, according to the report.
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Gilad Schalit was freed on October 18 after being held captive in Gaza for nearly five-and-a-half years by the Hamas terrorist organization. In exchange for Schalit's freedom, Israel agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners sitting in Israeli jails.
The first 477 prisoners were released simultaneously with Schalit, and the remaining 550 are set to be released at a later date.
Zahar's statements came after Israeli media reported that the remaining 550 prisoners would not be high profile individuals.
Israeli officials said that priority for release will be given to old and sick prisoners, as well as those who have served more than 20 years, Ma'an reported.
However, Zahar insisted that Israel would not be permitted to free mere "chicken thieves and criminals," the report said.