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Friday, October 2, 2009

Hamas chief: Shalit video deal a 'triumph' of armed struggle

Hamas Gaza chief Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday that a deal exchanging Palestinian prisoners for a videotape of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was a 'triumph' of the armed resistance against Israel.  
Ha'aretz,  October 2, 2009

Speaking in front of an assembled Gaza crowd, the Hamas strongmen congratulated the families of the female prisoners released earlier Friday, saying Hamas would not rest until all the Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel would be released.

"This is a day of great hope. We welcome our incarcerated sisters on this blessed day in a deal between the Israeli enemy and the victorious Hamas battalions," Haniyeh said.

"This is an amazing accomplishment to the Palestinians who captured Shalit," he added, saying it was "a great triumph to the resistance."

Speaking to the Palestinian prisoners still jailed in Israel, the Hamas Gaza chief said that the Palestinian were a people "who does not forget its prisoners and my government will not give up on your freedom," adding that "the armed forces will not give up on your honor."

Earlier Friday, Israel Radio had reported that the militant organization was planning to hold a victory parade, urging Palestinians to take to the streets to celebrate the release of Palestinian prisoners exchanged with Israel for a videotape of Shalit.

In addition, Channel 10 reported that Hamas activists had said they were barred by Palestinian security forces from participating in celebrations taking place in the Fatah-controlled West Bank.

Israel ordered the release of 19 Palestinian woman prisoners earlier Friday after it had verified that the video of Shalit it received earlier had indeed met its demands.

Members of the Israeli negotiating team for Shalit's release viewed the footage to ensure it met Israel's demands - primarily with regard to how recently it was filmed. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has also viewed the video.

As soon as it was determined that the tape did indeed meet requirements, the Palestinian prisoners were transferred to Red Cross vehicles which finalized their release by transporting them over the border with the West Bank.