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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hamas says Israel is blocking prisoner swap deal

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 00:52:54 GMT | PressTV

Palestinians hold pictures of relatives held in Israeli jails during a protest calling for the release of prisoners at the office of the International Red Cross in Gaza City.
Hamas says if Israel continues hindering a possible prisoner swap deal, its soldiers will kidnap more Israeli soldiers to free "our prisoners" in their jails.

Hamas is demanding the release of 1,450 Palestinian soldiers, including 450 long-serving inmates, in exchange for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

But Isreali Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he has "been generous" and has agreed to release 320 of the 450 Palestinians Hamas wants freed. "We will not free other prisoners than those we agree to release," he said and added that Hamas was being intransigent and their demands were impossible to meet.

In a press statement sent to reporters, Hamas said: "Israel is the one that hindered Shalit's deal" and "we will kidnap more Israeli soldiers to free our prisoners in Israeli jails."

Earlier on Tuesday, Osama al-Muzini, the Hamas official who has been following up the Egyptian-mediated talks with Israel, said, "The enemy is putting reservations on the numbers of the prisoners."

"Now they (Israel) want also to deport some of the prisoners out of the homes," he said, adding that "from the outset, we told them (Israel) that Hamas rejects these measures. When we stick to our demands, I think this doesn't make the demands harder or put obstacles." Hamas also wants Israel to free all women and children and leaders of the Palestinian factions.

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