Zahar: Schalit can be released in a day

900 days after kidnapping, Hamas leader hopes new Israeli gov't will free prisoners serving life sentences.

Mahmoud Zahar 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Mahmoud Zahar 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
A deal to free Gilad Schalit "could be reached within a day, if an Israeli government brave enough to release life prisoners is formed," Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said Thursday. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar. Zahar told Israel Radio that Hamas had not believed that the Schalit case would last as long as it has. Today marks 900 days since the soldier was kidnapped in the cross-border raid at Kerem Shalom in June 2006. Hamas, said Zahar, had denied requests by the Red Cross to visit Schalit for security reasons, but added that Islam requires fair treatment of prisoners. According to Zahar, the only way to bring about Schalit's freedom was the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails and detainees serving life sentences in particular. He expressed hope in the formation of a new Israeli government in 2009 that would fulfill Hamas's demands. Criticism over Israeli policy concerning the Gaza Strip by groups rallying for Schalit's release heightened on Wednesday after Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the transfer of NIS 100 million in cash from Palestinian banks in the West Bank to Gaza while the soldier was still being held captive by Hamas.