Egypt: Kassams holding up Schalit deal

Delegation head says talks have been frozen until Palestinians abide by truce.

Kassam crew 2 (photo credit: Channel 2 [file])
Kassam crew 2
(photo credit: Channel 2 [file])
Negotiations to free captured soldier Gilad Schalit in exchange for Palestinian prisoners were put on hold after Egyptian mediators rushed to shore up a collapsing truce between both sides. Col. Burhan Hamad, head of an Egyptian security delegation in Gaza, said dealing with the collapsing truce had forced his team to put aside the negotiations on freeing Schalit for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Hamad said the Egyptian security delegation would not restart negotiations on a swap until all Palestinian factions abided by the truce. "We haven't set up another meeting yet, because there's still not a cease-fire," he said. "Let's stop rockets first." Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at Israel last week, the first major attack by the group since it agreed to a ceasefire on the Gaza-Israel border in November. "The issue of the cease-fire made us focus on that instead ... and so we halted discussions (on a prisoner swap) because it is not possible to do both at once," Hamad said in a telephone interview. Earlier this month, Israel rejected a list of prisoners - including several terrorists responsible for dozens of Israeli murders - whose freedom Hamas demanded in exchange for Schalit. Egypt has mediated between Israel and Schalit's kidnappers.