Hamas politburo member Mousa Abu Marzouq said Tuesday that Israel had agreed to "lift the siege" on Gaza in exchange for Gilad Shalit, adding the Israel had crossed its own red lines to secure Shalit's freedom.
Abu Marzouq told Palestine TV that Israel had used Shalit as a pretext to ‘blockade Gaza’ but said there had been ‘unofficial agreements’ to end it during talks with a German mediator.
"This was confirmed in the last negotiations," Marzouq said.
Contrary to Marzouq's assertion Gaza is under siege, it is known the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel to Gaza is never at full capacity due to a lack of demand. Hamas has also boasted there is no financial crisis in Gaza.
According to Marzouq, Israel pledged not to pursue the prisoners for their actions prior to their detention, but did not mention Israel's stipulation that they would not be targeted on condition they did not return to terror.
He also expressed regret that several prominent prisoners were left out of the agreement, including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine secretary-general Ahmad Saadat and Hamas military leaders Abdullah Barghouthi and Ibrahim Hamed.
The deal was delayed, Marzouq said, because Hamas tried to secure the release of all leaders, "but [in the end] Israel retreated on other demands and agreed to free 60 percent of the imprisoned leaders and so an agreement was reached."
He added Hamas, unlike Israeli leaders, negotiated the deal without concern for regional or international pressure.
"We did not politicize the prisoner issue."
Summing up, Marzouq said, "I think the deal represents something great for the Palestinian people. Those who are still in jail are happy for those who have been released." said Hamas deputy leader in exile Moussa Abu Marzouk, who greeted prisoners arriving in Egypt from Israel.
"The rest of the prisoners must be released because if they are not released in a normal way they will be released in other ways," he added.
Shalit was released on Tuesday as Israel freed 477 prisoners in the first stage of a deal to release 1,027 security prisoners. Some 450 of those to be released for Shalit were incarcerated on terrorism related charges. At least 28 of them had Israeli blood on their hands.