Moussa Abu Marzuk, deputy of Hamas’ political bureau, has refused Israel’s demand to release the Israeli POW Gilad Shalit before Israeli restrictions on commerce with Gaza Strip are lifted.
However, he hints that, in exchange for a release of convicts, the organization will be willing to give Israel a clear indication of the kidnapped soldier’s condition.
Another high-ranking Hamas terrorist, Mahmoud a-Zahar, said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar that Hamas does not oppose the idea released convicts would be deported to Damascus, where they would join forces with Hamas terror groups that operate under the sponsorship of the Syrian government.
Abu Abir, a high-ranking operative in the Popular Resistance Committees, which is close to Hamas, told the Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat that preparations have already begun to protect the released convicts from targeted killings by Israel once they are freed. He said among the names are Ahmed Saadat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who was convicted for masterminding the murder of the legendary Israeli general Rehavam Z’evi when he served as a member of the Israeli government in October 2001. Also named were Ruhi Moushtaha, one of the founders of the organization’s internal intelligence department, and Hassan Salameh, the commander of Hamas’ military wing in Ramallah.
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Mr. Abir added “Shalit will not see the light of day until all the prisoners on the lists submitted to the Israelis have been released.”
Mr. Abir claims Cpl. Shalit was wounded in the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) attacks during the Israeli incursion in Gaza in January.
“Israel bears responsibility for his welfare,” he said. He refused to reveal the extent of his injuries, saying, “Any information about Shalit has a price.”
He added Cpl. Shalit is hidden together with directors of the military wing of the splinter groups that captured him, and that their hiding place is known to a very small number of people. “We are keeping his location under wraps in order to preserve his life and the lives of the leaders who are with him,” he said. “After all, if Israel knew about the location, it would attack and claim afterwards that he was killed by mistake together with the leaders of the organization.”
Mr. Abir said the Egyptian intelligence delegation to the talks, led by Mr. Omar Kanawi, told his people that linking the Shalit case with an agreement about the opening of the border crossings is a blow to the Egyptians’ efforts.
The family of POW Shalit and the director of the headquarters of the campaign for Gilad’s release, Mr. Hezi Meshita, refused to comment on the reports about the kidnapped soldier’s fate.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org