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Arab Leaders Celebrate Victory: 'Swap Teaches us to Kidnap More'

Arab leaders from Abbas to Haniyeh exult in the "victory" of Kuntar's release, and say they've learned a lesson: Kidnap more IDF soldiers.
By Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel
First Publish: 7/16/2008, 3:25 PM

Israel News Photo: (archive)

As Gaza children throw candy in the street and massive rallies gear up in Lebanon and Israel to celebrate the release of murderer Samir Kuntar and other terrorists, Arab leaders and terrorist groups around the Middle East are expressing their joy over what to them is a resounding victory over Israel and a lesson that kidnapping IDF soldiers works.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas praised the family of Kuntar, Hamas terrorist leader Ismail Haniyeh encouraged more kidnappings, and another Gaza terrorist openly expressed what many in Israel already fear: Kidnapping IDF soldiers has become the most effective way to release terrorists with blood on their hands.

Abbas congratulated the family of Samir Kuntar on his release Wednesday, and sent his condolences to the Lebanese families receiving their loved ones' bodies as part of the prisoner exchange with Hizbullah. He also sent his regards to the families of the other four terrorists released by Israel.

In Gaza, Hamas terrorist leader and PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh congratulated Samir Kuntar on his impending release from Israeli prison and his triumphant return to Lebanon. Haniyeh praised "the great victory the resistance has had, which proved the righteousness of our ways," and said his own terrorist organization would likewise remain loyal to its operatives jailed in Israel as well, suggesting that Hamas has been encouraged by the release to kidnap more IDF soldiers.

He promised that Hamas would not abandon the Palestinian Authority prisoners jailed in Israel.

Shortly before the conclusion of Wednesday's prisoner exchange,Haniyeh visited Gaza's al-Bureij neighborhood and spoke at a news conference at the home of the Arab family who adopted Kuntar.

"Today we stress again that we won't give up our prisoners," said Haniyeh. "We won't be able to waive these heroes without an honorable deal for our prisoners in Israel. The Israelis must pay a price. They must know that they will pay a price in return for an exchange deal. We cannot accept having these prisoners remain in jail."

Referring to the ongoing talks between Hamas and Israel to release captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, he announced that "there is a captive Israeli soldier and thousands of prisoners on our side. We are interested in finalizing this issue as soon as possible, but they must accept the Palestinian demands. They must accept the demands of the Palestinian resistance sentenced to long jail terms, parliament members, sick people, women, etc."

"Second, from [al-Bureij], the camp of strong standing, I once against congratulate Lebanon. We tell them that this operation is the best lesson that can be achieved – a victory over the occupation, liberating lands and liberating prisoners."

The Hamas leader said that the deal with Hizbullah, which included the return of the dead bodies of kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, gave him hope. "This is a precedent," he said.

Inspired by the results of the kidnappings and the subsequent prisoner release, Haniyeh decided Wednesday to postpone the talks on the release of Shalit.

Haniyeh is not the only major terrorist leader to express his delight at the proof that kidnapping Israelis is an effective weapon strategic weapon against Israel. Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the umbrella terror group Popular Resistance Committees, told a Ynet reporter on Wednesday that the completion of the deal "even after the images of the Israeli soldiers' coffins, proves that kidnapping soldiers will continue to be the most efficient, favored and ideal way to release Palestinian prisoners, particularly those defined by the enemy as having blood on their hands."

According to Abu Mujehad, the Lebanese and PA terror infrastructure "will continue to work to kidnap soldiers in order to release prisoners" and that his resistance will continue to work to kidnap soldiers "in order to retrieve our rights, after it has been proved beyond any doubt that no diplomatic negotiations can release prisoners or return rights."