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Hamas insists Israeli soldiers will not be released without prisoner deal

Hamas Political Chief Ismail Haniyeh makes a speech as holds a press conference in Moscow, Russia on 4 March 2020. [Sefa Karacan - Anadolu Agency]
Hamas Political Chief Ismail Haniyeh in Moscow, Russia on 4 March 2020 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation soldiers captured in the besieged Gaza Strip will not be released without a deal to release Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, the Head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Sunday.

Haniyeh made his comments in an interview with the international Arab Forum for Solidarity with Detainees in Israeli Jails during which he stressed that the issue of Palestinian detainees is a top priority for Hamas and the Palestinian resistance groups.

"The movement managed to free more than a thousand detainees from Israeli jails in the 2011 prisoner swap," explained the former elected PA prime minister. He pointed out that the Israeli occupation authorities don't make compromises willingly, but Hamas will continue to support Palestinian prisoners in every way possible.

Concerning the "Sword of Jerusalem" battle with the Israeli occupation in May, Haniyeh said that the confrontation was a milestone in the history of Palestine. "It has put the region on the right way towards ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine."

The Hamas official praised the work of the Forum in raising awareness of the issues of the Arab and Muslim Ummah. "It also emphasises the importance of collective work and partnership in the face of dangers posed to the Palestinian issue about which there is a consensus in the Arab and Muslim world that it is the central issue of the Ummah."

READ: UK lists Israel among countries with human rights concerns

Haniyeh expressed his sorrow and regret at the security agreement between Israel and Morocco. He warned against ongoing normalisation agreements with the Israelis aimed at forming security and military coalitions in the region led by the colonial-occupation state.

When asked about the British decision to blacklist all of Hamas, including the political wing, Haniyeh insisted that this move is intended to support the Israeli occupation. "It is an attempt to contain the mounting solidarity with the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian resistance, and give support to the Israeli occupation."

The British government's support for Israel continues despite it being condemned as an apartheid state by B'Tselem and Human Rights Watch earlier this year. Apartheid is a crime against humanity.

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