Jerusalem, Israel – It can now be revealed that Hamas demanded that Israel release dozens of Israeli Arab convicts who are imprisoned for security offenses in exchange for the release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was captured last June by Palestinians.

Israel summarily rejected the demand to release Israeli Arab security convicts.

Israel immediately clarified that it does not intend to conduct any negotiations over the release of prisoners with Israeli citizenship. Israeli citizens, said security sources, are outside the negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israeli security sources note the fact that Israeli security prisoners appear on Hamas’ list is not accidental, since Hamas is trying to demonstrate solidarity with the Israeli Arabs and to show that it acknowledges their struggle and is not abandoning them in Israeli prisons.

Ever since that list of names was turned over to Israel, no progress has been made with Hamas on the release of Shalit.

On Sunday, Olmert met with Gilad’s parents, and told them that, “unfortunately, the deal is stuck.”

Intelligence expert Shalom Harari, a member of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel met with Israeli media and said that the Palestinians have been consistently demanding the release of Israeli Arabs who are involved in terror, and that Israel’s government has firmly refused. Indeed, in mid-2003, a cabinet resolution was passed on the matter, forbidding the exchange of Israeli Arabs convicted of security offenses.

Israel’s security cabinet convened on Sunday and decided to give orders to authorize killings against military commanders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who are involved in rocket fire against Israel.

Unconfirmed reports say that orders were also given to target Palestinian political leaders, should the situation escalate.

A statement from the Israel Prime Minister’s Bureau read that, “at this stage, the operational activity will focus on targets from Hamas and Islamic Jihad that are responsible for the current escalation.” The security cabinet effectively authorized a graduated move. If there is an escalation in Hamas’ activity, there will be a step up in the IDF’s actions, including attacks on Hamas’ political wing and not just the military echelon.

An airstrike was staged on Sunday by the Israeli Air Force in the northern Gaza Strip, killing eight Arabs, two armed men and six family members of a Palestinian parliament member, Dr. Khalil al-Haya. Al-Haya serves as a parliament member on behalf of Hamas, Following this attack, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh issued a joint call to the international community to exert pressure on Israel in order to halt its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas political bureau director Khaled Mashaal is also on Israel’s list of potential assassinations, said Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter: “Khaled Mashaal is not immune, not in Damascus, nor anywhere else. I am convinced that at the first opportunity they will take leave of him, despite the complexity, the sensitivity and the fact that he is not located here across the fence, which will make things much harder.” Dichter said that the targeted killings are only part of a package of steps with the purpose to stop the rocket fire at Sderot.

In 1997, Israeli intelligence operatives unsuccessfully tried to poison Mashaal while he was visiting Jordan. The operatives were caught in the act by Jordanian police. Israel later traded imprisoned Hamas leader Sheik Yassin in exchange for the Israeli officers who failed to kill Mashaal.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.