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Israeli minister: Kidnap top Hamas officials

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett (photo by AFP)

An Israeli minister has advised the regime to kidnap senior Hamas members for use as bargaining chips in the conflict with the Palestinians. 

Education minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday such a measure was needed in order to secure the release of two Israelis and return of the bodies of two others whom he said were being kept in the Gaza Strip.

“Once in a situation like this, we would go and kidnap from the other side,” he said. “We need to create leverage in order to free the bodies of our soldiers.”

Hamas has acknowledged that it is holding four Israeli soldiers that it captured during the Tel Aviv’s regime 50-day war on the Gaza Strip in 2014.

In the past, Bennett said, Israel would kidnap Syrian officers in order to gain diplomatic bargaining chips.

He said the military shouldn’t sit on its hands and “wait for the release of prisoners. We need to be aggressive and operate for ourselves.”

According to The Times of Israel, Bennett was an officer in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, which abducted two senior Lebanese figures — Abdel Karim Obeid in 1989 and Mustafa Dirani in 1994.

Tel Aviv wanted to use them as bargaining chips to trade for missing Israeli pilot Ron Arad, the paper said.

For years, Israel which is believed to have kidnapped four Iranian diplomats in Lebanon falsely accused Iran of holding Arad. 

The diplomats were abducted at a checkpoint in north Lebanon in July 1982, the year of Israel’s second invasion of Lebanon.

Iran says the diplomats were abducted by Phalange militiamen and handed over to Israel. 

On the 34th anniversary of the abduction, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced recently that it has evidence and documents that indicate the four diplomats “are still alive and imprisoned in Israel.”

Earlier this week, an Iranian lawmaker said Israel has indicated a readiness for a deal with Hezbollah that would involve the return of Iranian diplomats.

Javad Karimi Qoddousi told the Fars News Agency Tuesday that Israel “relayed a message to Hezbollah declaring that it would cooperate” with the group on the issue of the Iranian diplomats. 

In exchange, Hezbollah would release “prisoners of war with European nationalities” who have been fighting for militant groups in the Syrian city of Aleppo, Qoddousi said.

Reports have surfaced that Hezbollah had captured US and French intelligence officers in Syria's northern province of Aleppo in May, according to Fars.

“We suppose that the Zionists have opened up for negotiations and sent the message that they are ready to strike a deal and negotiate with Hezbollah in this regard,” Qoddousi said.

"The enemy is trying to work out a big deal over this big trophy that it has taken from us," said the MP who is a member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has promised to follow up the case himself, he added.

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