Barely a month after the end of a bloody confrontation with Israel in Gaza, which was touched off by the kidnapping of three Israeli youths, Hamas officials this week called for further abductions in order to leverage prisoner exchanges with Israel.
The officials said they were seeking to repeat the successful abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006, which led five years later to the release by Israel of 1,027 prisoners.
“We strive for an abduction operation that would make a second Shalit possible,” said Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri in an interview with Palestinian media. “Over 1,000 of our Palestinian brothers who were incarcerated in the Zionist occupation’s prisons were released as part of that deal. Only through similar operations can we hope to facilitate the release of more prisoners.”
His sentiment received backing from the senior Hamas political figure in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, although in a somewhat less pointed manner. “The Hamas leadership is debating ways to secure the release of prisoners from the Israeli occupation’s prisons,” he said. “We would welcome any action that would bring about the prisoners release. They symbolize the just Palestinian struggle.”