Hamas urges Israel not to free captive soldier by force

GAZA, Nov. 1 – The Islamic Hamas movement on Saturday warned against Israel’s intention to retrieve its captive soldier by force. “The settlement of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit can not be militarily done,” said Abu Obaida, a spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing which has been holding Shalit since he was captured in 2006.

“If Israel resorts to the military action, this will raise the price that the occupation will pay in return,” he said.

Abu Obaida said his remarks were in response to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak who threatened to free the Israeli corporal by force.

“Barak can not do so, he could not restore him (Shalit) when he was a minister, so how can he free the soldier in this tense phase in Israel,” Abu Obaida said, referring to the approaching Israeli elections.

Hamas and two aligned factions kidnapped Shalit in a cross-border raid in southeast Gaza Strip in 2006. Hamas demands the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in exchange for the freedom of Shalit.

Egypt has been mediating between Hamas and Israel which is averse to Hamas’ insistence to select the names of the Palestinian prisoners who would be released in the swap.

In June 2008, Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel applicable in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for six months.

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