The kidnapping of IDF soldiers is at the heart of Palestinian culture, a military Hamas spokesman said on Tuesday, responding to a speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas called such abductions alien to Palestinian norms.
“Those who refuse to abduct Zionist soldiers renounce the pain and suffering of thousands of prisoners yearning for freedom,” wrote Abu-Ubaida, a spokesman for the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, on his Facebook page, negating the words used by Abbas in his speech.
“Operations to capture enemy soldiers and trade them for our heroic prisoners are at the heart of our people’s culture, and are a source of pride for them and their resistance,” Abu-Ubaida added.
At the “Breaking the Impasse” session closing the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa in Jordan on Sunday, Abbas pleaded with Israel to release pre-Oslo Palestinian security prisoners. He criticized Israel for only releasing large numbers of prisoners to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held hostage by Hamas in Gaza for five years. The Palestinians he spoke for were not capable of or interested in carrying out such actions, he said. “Do you want us to abduct other Shalits?” Abbas asked. “This is not part of our culture. We cannot do this.”
Meanwhile, responding to a proposal by Secretary of State John Kerry to boost the Palestinian economy through a mega-investment of $4 billion and jump-start peace talks with Israel, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the plan merely “markets an illusion, deceives public opinion and wastes time for the benefit of the Zionist entity.”
“Everyone should beware [of this plan] and not cooperate with it, so long as American administrations promote these kinds of misleading plans under the guise of which the Israeli occupation completed all of its extremist Judaizing racist projects,” said Barhoum.
Abbas’s speech was not attacked only by the Islamic right, however. The pan-Arabist daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi dedicated its editorial on Tuesday to tearing the speech apart as well.
“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas uses every opportunity to stress his friendship with Israel, his care for its security, and his readiness to negotiate with it,” read the editorial.
“Moreover, he said that settlers and Israeli soldiers are not kidnapped, referring to the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the Gaza Strip. President Abbas forgets that this kidnapping brought about the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, a large number of whom belong to Fatah.”