Hamas issues threat to kill Schalit

Damascus-based official says if group's demands aren't met, "we'll negotiate over Schalit's bones."

schalit in uniform 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Gilad Schalit's family)
schalit in uniform 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Gilad Schalit's family)
If Israel doesn't agree to Hamas's demands over the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, the group "will conduct negotiations over his bones," senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk was quoted as saying Sunday. Marzouk, based in Damascus, told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Kabas that the group was refusing to free Schalit before Israel frees 350 Palestinian prisoners it was demanding in the first stage of a proposed deal. If the prisoners are not released, said Marzouk, Schalit "will remain" with Hamas. It was the first time Hamas had issued a clear threat to kill Schalit since the soldier was captured in June 2006 when terrorists from Hamas and other groups tunneled into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, a senior Fatah official predicted that Schalit would not be freed in the near future. He said Hamas viewed the soldier as an "insurance policy," preventing a large-scale IDF operation in Gaza and targeted killings. The official, who was returning to Ramallah after talks in Cairo, said Hamas was looking for assurances from Israel that after Schalit is released it won't hunt down its leaders or embark on an incursion of the Strip, Israel Radio reported. Also Sunday, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said that he would be willing to personally meet Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other senior officials from the group in order to secure Schalit's release. Yishai said he would also be prepared to meet with Hizbullah officials to bring about the freedom of the two captured IDF reservists, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Yishai told Israel Radio that redeeming captives was a "big mitzva" and that saving lives "overrides everything else." On Saturday, Hamas warned that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government was gambling with Schalit's life and if it continued to refuse to meet the group's demands, the Schalit case would be closed forever. Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri said that as long as the Palestinian prisoners did not see their parents, Schalit would not see his. Masri added that Hamas was beginning to doubt Egypt's ability to broker a prisoner swap deal and that the group was concerned that continuing negotiations was a waste of time since the recent "marathon talks" did not bring any real results.