Palestinian groups demand release of 1000 Arab detainess for Israeli soldier release
Three Palestinian groups that captured an Israeli soldier six days ago demanded in a statement early Saturday that Israel free 1,000 Arab prisoners held in its jails and end its offensive in Gaza Strip.
The statement titled "Military Statement Number Two", which was faxed to news agencies, did not specify whether the demands were for the release of the soldier. But a spokesman for the military wing of Hamas party, one of the three factions, said they were conditions for freeing him.
Israel has repeatedly said it will not discuss freeing prisoners in exchange for the captured soldier, named Gilad Shalit. He was captured in a cross-border raid Sunday morning.
"We are declaring to the public our just and humanitarian demands," it said. The statement repeated an earlier demand for the release of women prisoners and minors in exchange for information on Shalit, but made the added request for Israel to release 1,000 "Palestinian, Arab and Muslim prisoners."
It said these would have to include all Palestinian faction leaders as well as humanitarian cases. The statement cast doubt on hopes voiced by mediators that Shalit could be freed soon.
"In spite of the good efforts of the mediators who tried in silence to speed up the treatment of this humanitarian matter, the enemy and their political leadership are still under the pressure of the security and military command," it said. "The escalation and arrogance mean the enemy will be responsible for the bad consequences," it said.
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