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Hamas says will not release Israeli prisoners without swapping them for Palestinian inmates

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)
This file photo shows Saleh al-Aruri, the deputy leader of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

A senior official of Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, reaffirms that Israeli prisoners in the besieged Gaza Strip will not see the light of day until Palestinian inmates held in Israeli jails are released.

In a speech delivered on the 34th founding anniversary of Hamas on Thursday, Saleh al-Aruri, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, reiterated that a prisoner swap deal was the sole way for the Israelis to get back their prisoners. 

"They will not see the light of day except through an exchange deal that guarantees the freedom of Palestinian prisoners," the official said.   

He asserted that the freedom of the Palestinian prisoners would remain a top priority and a national and humanitarian goal for his movement and its supporters.

Hamas managed to free more than a thousand Palestinian detainees from Israeli jails in the Wafaa al-Aharar (“True Promise of Free Men”) prisoner swap deal with the occupying regime in 2011.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly held in Israeli jails. Hundreds have been incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention, which allows holding Palestinian inmates without trial or charge. Some Palestinian prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to eleven years.

Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans each time and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.

In the most recent Israeli military aggression, the Tel Aviv regime started a 12-day war against Gaza Strip on May 10 after Palestinians retaliated against violent raids on worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s plans to force a number of Palestinian families out of their homes at Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East al-Quds.

Gaza’s resistance groups, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in particular, responded to the aggression on the same day that it started targeting the impoverished enclave.

Apparently caught off guard by unprecedented rocket barrages from Gaza, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 21, which Palestinian resistance groups accepted with Egyptian mediation.

As a result of the brutal Israeli aggression, more than 250 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, including 66 children, with more than 1,900 people wounded.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.

Israel occupied East al-Quds, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later had to withdraw from Gaza, but has been occupying the other territories ever since.

Hamas stresses need for reconciliation among Palestinian political parties

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Hamas official also stressed the need to heal the national rift within the political factions, and also called for restoration of national unity with the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, as well as importance of holding legislative, presidential, and municipal elections.

The Palestinian leadership has been divided between Fatah and Hamas since 2006, when the latter scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has ever since been running the coastal enclave, while Fatah has been based in the autonomous parts the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Previous reconciliation attempts by the two sides to form a power-sharing unity government in Gaza and the West Bank have failed.

But in September last year, the Hamas reached a deal with Fatah to hold first general elections in nearly 15 years.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later postponed the parliamentary elections amid a dispute over voting in Israeli-annexed East al-Quds as well as splits in his Fatah movement and its unpopularity.

Palestinians have called for international help to remove the hurdles put by the Israeli regime to undermine the Palestinian polls, particularly in East al-Quds.

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