Hamas official: Abductions to continue

Says "more pressure must be exerted" if Israel does not answer Hamas demands for freeing Schalit.

Gilad Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hamas will abduct more IDF soldiers if Israel does not answer its demands for freeing Cpl. Gilad Schalit, a Hamas official said in an interview published Saturday, referencing a March 2007 proposal whereby Palestinian security prisoners would be released in return for Schalit. The swap has been upheld by disagreement between the two sides over the criteria regarding prisoners to be included in the exchange. "Abducting soldiers is not a purpose in and of itself and is not a hobby," Osama al-Zeini, the Hamas official in charge of the "Schalit file," told Palestine, a newspaper affiliated with Hamas. "The issue is the issue of prisoners. If the Schalit deal does not meet its objectives and the enemy will not answer our demands, there is no doubt that more pressure must be exerted on the enemy so that it complies. [Our] goal is to free the prisoners and we insist on it. "If we don't see compliance from the enemy, abductions will continue until every single prisoner is released," he said. Zeini said negotiations to free Schalit, whom Hamas kidnapped in June 2006, were at a standstill because "the Israeli enemy demands other lists of prisoners to choose from. We say the fighters [prisoners] are not fruits and vegetables to be served to Israel according to its mood. We insist on the deal agreed upon in March 2007." The official also threatened that if Israel were to invade the Gaza Strip, it would sustain heavy casualties. "As a fighting organization, we must always expect the worse. That is why our fighters have undergone training to prepare them for such an invasion, if it happens. The enemy will be surprised by what the holy warriors have prepared for it," Zeini said.