Hamas hints at prisoner exchange with Israel

January 31, 2016  

The Hamas terrorist group which controls Gaza on Sunday hinted at the prospect of exchanging an Israeli soldier declared dead in 2014 war in return for Palestinian prisoners, AFP reported.

At the same time, Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida also declared that the group would continue to boost its military powers in preparation for a war with Israel.

The spokesman for Hamas’s so-called “military arm”, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said that “the resistance has… cards in its hands that will force the enemy to release you”, referring to prisoners in Israeli jail.

Hamas has been holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

There have been talks in the past of a swap of Arab terrorists in exchange for the bodies of Goldin and Shaul, although the deal never materialized and Hamas later toughened its conditions for such a deal.

Meanwhile, Abu Obeida also stressed that Hamas will carry on with preparations and boosting its power for any upcoming battle with Israel.

Abu Obeida’s remarks were made in a rally held in Gaza to honor seven Hamas terrorists who were killed last week when one of Hamas’s underground terrorist tunnels collapsed. He was quoted by the Xinhua news agency.

“The Palestinian armed resistance has the right to prepare and boost its power in preparations for any upcoming war with the Israeli occupation,” he said.

The decisions for preparations and boosting the military power of Hamas is a strict strategic decision that can never be regretted under any circumstance, continued Abu Obeida.

“The accident of the death of our seven brothers would never break our determination to carry on with the battle of preparations and get ready to defend our people and their holy sites,” he stressed.

Following last week’s tunnel collapse, Hamas deputy leader Ismail Haniyeh finally publicly confirmed what had been well-known for a long time, that the group is rebuilding its tunnel infrastructure.

“There are those who think that the calm is a time of rest,” Haniyeh said. “But this is a continuation of the struggle. Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades are working and preparing for Palestine. Fighters are digging twice as much as the number of tunnels dug in Vietnam.”

“In east Gaza there are heroes digging tunnels under the ground and in the west there are those testing rockets. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades are digging tunnels to defend Gaza and turn it into a launch pad for all of Palestine,” he declared.

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