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Hamas official claims that exchange deal "includes Israel lifting Gaza siege and not pursuing ex-prisoners"

February 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm

The Deputy Director of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has said that the prisoner exchange deal agreed with Israel “includes lifting the Gaza siege and not pursuing and prosecuting the ex-prisoners”. Moussa Abu Marzouk made his comments to local media outlet “Palestine”.

“This was made clear in our discussions with the German mediator,” said Mr. Abu Marzouk. “When we spoke about lifting the blockade it was emphasised in the context of the release of Gilad Shalit.” He also pointed out that some of the ex-prisoners released into the occupied West Bank still have security conditions imposed upon them, such as having to sign in at local police stations on a regular basis. Part of the agreement with Israel is that such ex-detainees will not be re-arrested and prosecuted again for anything they might have done in the past.

“Israel crossed a lot of red lines for this agreement,” said the Hamas official, “such as releasing our fighters and those with Israeli citizenship and Jerusalem residence, which the Israelis have refused to consider in the past.”

There is, he added, a lot of sadness that leaders such as Marwan Barghouti,Ahmad Saa’dat, Ibrahim Hamed, Hassan Salameh, Abbas El-Sayed and Abdullah Barghouti have not been released. According to Abu Marzouk, the delay in reaching an agreement with the Israelis was because of the attempt to include these prisoners and others in the deal.

Hamas, claimed Abu Marzouk, did not “politicise” the prisoners’ issue, but held out for the inclusion of prisoners from Israel and Jerusalem. The current regional and international political situation had no role to play in the discussions, he said.