Hamas: Schalit won't be part of truce

Senior Hamas official to 'Post': Egypt plans to unilaterally reopen Rafah border crossing.

Zahar 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Zahar 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
"Palestine will be liberated and not one meter of its land will be missing," Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar declared on Tuesday. "The new generation of Palestinians has been entrusted with the task of liberating all of Palestine," said Zahar, who was speaking to students at the Sultan Suleiman Boys School in Gaza City, expressing confidence that the Palestinians would eventually achieve their goal. "Allah's promise will be fulfilled," he said. "Victory is on its way." Zahar said Palestinians would never give up their right to all of Palestine, "no matter how much time passes and how fierce the enemies are." Meanwhile, he and other Hamas leaders rejected Israel's demand that IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, abducted inside Israel on the Gaza border on June 25, 2006, be part of a truce deal. "We won't give Israel a free truce," Zahar said. "If anyone thinks that the issue of Schalit will be solved for free as part of the tahadiyeh [period of calm] is completely wrong. The issue of a prisoner exchange is completely separate from the tahadiyeh." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of trying to foil the current Egyptian truce initiative by insisting that it include Schalit. "Israel is indirectly evading the initiative," he said. "Hamas is not going to wait for an Israeli response to the initiative. We will resort to various methods to face the daily aggression and lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip," he said. Abu Zuhri claimed that Hamas has made concessions to ensure the success of the Egyptian efforts, while Israel "was not serious." But if Israel abided by the proposed truce, that would be good, he added. A senior Hamas official in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post that Egypt was planning to unilaterally reopen the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Sinai sometime next week. He said Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who visited Jerusalem earlier this week, made it clear to Israeli leaders that Cairo would reopen the border crossing to "alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip." The Egyptians, the official said, had decided not to wait long for Israel's response to their initiative. "We have been told that the Egyptians are unhappy with the conditions that Israel set for accepting the initiative," he said. "The Egyptians share the Hamas view that the case of Schalit should be dealt with separately and after the truce is achieved." According to the Hamas official, the Egyptians are planning to invite representatives of Hamas and other Palestinian factions to Cairo soon for further consultations on the situation in the Gaza Strip and the possibility of reopening the Rafah crossing.