Hamas: We have powerful cards to force Israel to free prisoners

Israeli authorities say that many of the released prisoners had resumed terrorism activity, either by joining Hamas or recruiting members to terror cells

HAMAS MEMBERS in Gaza. (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel must release Palestinians it rearrested after they were set free in the Gilad Schalit prisoner-exchange agreement if it wants to reach a new prisoner-swap deal, Hamas said Monday.
Israel has rearrested dozens of former prisoners who were released under the terms of the 2011 agreement between Israel and Hamas. The deal saw the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Schalit, an IDF soldier who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during a cross-border raid near Kerem Shalom crossing on June 25, 2006.
Many of the released prisoners had resumed terrorism activity, either by joining Hamas or recruiting members to terrorist cells in the West Bank, according to Israeli authorities.
Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas to reach a new prisoner deal have achieved “significant progress,” the Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Monday
The newspaper, however, quoted “sources in the Palestinian resistance” in the Gaza Strip as saying that “despite the clear progress in this file, there is fear that this progress is not real.”
The sources expressed fear that the purported progress was part of an Israeli attempt to divert attention from the plan to apply its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. Talk about progress was also designed to show that Hamas was engaged in negotiations with Israel despite its recent threats regarding the annexation plan, the sources said.
Hamas is believed to be holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, which were seized in the 2014 Gaza war. In addition, Hamas is also believed to be holding two Israeli citizens who entered the Gaza Strip on their own: Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayyed.
The release of the ex-prisoners who were arrested after they were freed in the Schalit deal was a precondition for launching negotiations to reach a new prisoner-exchange agreement, Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said.
“The Palestinian resistance holds powerful cards to release Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons and compel the occupation to submit to its demands,” he said.
Qanou called on the Egyptians to intervene and pressure Israel to abide by the terms of the [Schalit] deal and release the prisoners who were rearrested.