Hamas official: No calm until Shalit prisoners freed

A senior Hamas official tells The Times of Israel the group does not accept the idea that “quiet will be answered with quiet” in the Gaza Strip, saying that if Israel wants peace in the south it must release all the prisoners freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit who were recently re-arrested following the abduction of the three Israeli teens, and must adhere to the ceasefire agreement reached in the aftermath of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.

The Hamas official claims the terror group was not involved in the abduction and killing of Naftali Fraenkel,  Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach on June 12, adding that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has spoken with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and assured him of this fact.

He says Israel has no evidence tying the group to the attack. Israeli leaders, he says, have launched an unjustified campaign against the Palestinian public in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and arrested dozens of prisoners released for Shalit for no real reason.

The official adds that Egypt is involved in trying to negotiate a ceasefire between the sides, though not heavily so. “They won’t put their full weight behind bringing about a truce,” he says. In recent days other Hamas sources have said a ceasefire depended on Egypt reopening the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai.

— Avi Issacharoff

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