Hamas warned Thursday afternoon that progress will not be made towards releasing kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit unless Israel keeps the Gaza crossings opened. Israel has closed the crossings after Gaza terrorists fired rockets into Israel, despite the current ceasefire agreement.
Egypt invited Hamas on Tuesday to continue indirect talks on conditions for freeing Shalit, but Hamas turned down the offer. Hamas negotiator Osama al-Muzaini said it does not wish to "start new discussions before the previous understandings are applied, especially the issue of the lull [ceasefire]."
Al-Muzaini also complained that the amounts of products and fuel that Israel has allowed into Gaza "prove that the Israeli side still is evading from implementing its obligations." Israel announced on Thursday that the Gaza crossings will be shut down on Friday because of the resumption of Kassam rocket fire on Israel.
His remarks follow vows by Hamas leaders that the government agreement with Hizbullah to release terrorists shows that Israel can be forced to accept higher demands. The Cabinet agreed this week to free Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and other Arab terrorists for the return of kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who most officials say are not alive.
Al-Muzaini added that the Gaza terrorist authority refuses to continue showing signs that Shalit is alive. An Egyptian newspaper reported earlier this week that Hamas had delivered to Egypt a video of Shalit and a letter from him, but the Israeli government has denied the rumor.
The Gaza terrorist authority refuses to continue showing signs that Shalit is alive.
Hamas previously has sent two audio tapes and a letter, in which Israeli intelligence analysts said the soldier spoke under pressure.
Al-Muzaini warned that if Israel does not cooperate in negotiations for Shalit's release, Hamas will kidnap more soldiers. "We can hide Shalit another 20 years," he added. He also rejected an Israel proposal that dozens of terrorists with "blood on their hands" be released to foreign countries. Egypt, which is moderating talks between Hamas and Israel, also has rejected the idea.
Israel has said that the ceasefire agreement stipulates that negotiations for freeing Shalit were to advance after the Rafiah crossing at the Egyptian border is opened, but Hamas has countered that the sticking point is its demand that Israel release hundreds of Arab terrorists.
Egypt tried to re-open the Rafiah border on Wednesday, but immediately closed it after thousands of stone-throwing Gaza Arabs pelted Egyptian soldiers with rocks.