Hamas Freezes Talks on Shalit, Cites Closure of Gaza Crossings

Hamas has frozen talks on freeing Shalit, days after vowing to take a hard line following Israel's okay to free child-killer Kuntar to Hizbullah.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu ,

Hams Terrorists and Shalit
Hams Terrorists and Shalit
photo: file

Hamas has frozen all negotiations on freeing kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit because of Israel's closure of crossings into Gaza following another Kassam rocket attack Thursday. The latest strike represented the sixth day that Arab terrorists have broken the two-week old truce.

Hamas explained that the closure of the crossings are a violation of the truce and blamed rival Fatah terrorists for attacking Israel in order to undermine the agreement. However, Islamic Jihad terrorist leaders took responsibility for earlier rocket and mortar attacks.

"It makes no sense for us to begin negotiating on the matter of Shalit's release when Israel is not committed to the calm," said Hamas official Moussa Abu-Marzouk.

The latest ploy by Hamas comes less than a few days after it warned that it would "take advantage" of the Olmert administration's decision to free Arab terrorists, including Lebanese murderer Samir Kuntar, in return for kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Most government officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have said the soldiers are dead.
 
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar said the terrorist party would work "to release people Israel accused of having 'blood on their hands,' like Samir Kuntar. We have to take advantage of this to release our prisoners."

Abu Mujahid, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees that was involved in the kidnapping of Shalit, commented after the German-negotiated agreement with Hizbullah, "Shalit will not see the light until the Israelis fulfill our demands. The occupation's [Israel's] decision to release Samir Kuntar will pave the way for the release of Palestinian prisoners who are serving lengthy sentences."
The occupation's [Israel's] decision to release Samir Kuntar will pave the way for the release of Palestinian prisoners who are serving lengthy sentences.

Kuntar infiltrated from Lebanon in 1979 and brutally murdered a four-year-old girl, her father and a police officer. The Associated Press pointed out that Israel's agreement to release him "appears to set a new standard, possibly pointing the way to freedom" for other terrorists in the future.

Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) opposed the deal with Hizbullah, citing that it may endanger negotiations for freeing Shalit and that it would pave the way for Hamas to demand the release of arch-terrorist  Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms for lethal terrorist attacks.

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and ministers Ronnie Bar-On and Zeev Boim (Kadima) opposed the deal with Hizbullah, citing concern that it may endanger negotiations for freeing Shalit. They also feared it would pave the way for Hamas to demand Barghouti's release.

Shalit was kidnapped two years ago in a raid at a Gaza crossing that killed two other soldiers. Hamas leaders have promised Israel that he is alive and have sent two audio tapes, which Israeli intelligence officials believe are authentic but showed that Shalit was under pressure while talking.



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