The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says it has captured enough number of Israeli soldiers to swap them for all Palestinians who are illegally kept in Israeli prisons.
Deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau Saleh al-Arouri said on Saturday the resistance movement had taken an unprecedented number of Israeli captives during an operation that was launched earlier in the day from the Gaza Strip into the occupied territories.
“Our detainees in [Israeli] prisons, their freedom is looming large. What we have in our hands will release all our prisoners,” Arouri said, adding that some senior Israeli officers were among the captives.
Hamas forces managed to infiltrate the heavily-fortified territories that are under the Israeli occupation early on Saturday after the resistance group fired thousands of rockets into those areas.
Arouri said Hamas was ready for an expansion of the war with Israel while insisting that continued fighting would enable the group to take more Israelis captive.
“The longer fighting continues, the higher the number of prisoners will become,” he told Al Jazeera.
Hamas has repeatedly said securing the release of Palestinians imprisoned by the Israeli regime is among its main priorities.
Estimates by NGOs suggest that nearly 5,200 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons with women and minors accounting for a significant number.
Israel launched attacks on Gaza after the launch of the Palestinian Operation al-Aqsa Storm on Saturday. Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed.
The Hamas says its operation, which has left at least 100 Israelis killed, has been a response to repeated acts of insult by Israeli settlers against the al-Aqsa Mosque, a holy Muslim site located in the occupied city of al-Quds.
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