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PIJ leader: If Israel doesn’t free prisoners in a week, we’ll resume fighting

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhaleh. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhaleh. (Screen capture: YouTube)

The head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group threatens to resume its attacks if two of its members currently being held by Israel are not released, a day after a ceasefire went into effect, following three days of fighting.

In an interview aired on the Islamic Jihad’s Palestine Today television network, Ziad Nakhaleh said the organization had made the ceasefire contingent upon Israel releasing two members of the group: Bassam al-Saadi, the head of the organization’s activities in the West Bank, and Khalil Awawdeh, who is currently on a hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention by Israel.

“From the very beginning, we insisted that the two leaders be freed — the brother on hunger strike, and Bassam Al-Saadi. The enemy tried to proceed slowly in agreeing to this demand, but in the end it has conceded to these demands, with explicit Egyptian guarantees — that our mujahid brother Khalil Awawdeh will set out for the hospital tomorrow, and then he will go home. As for Bassam Al-Saadi, we received an explicit promise, in writing, that Egypt pledges to follow up on his release in the shortest possible time frame,” Nakhaleh says.

Israeli officials have denied this arrangement, saying they did not intend to release either man early.

In his speech, Nakhaleh says his organization told the Egyptians that Israel has one week to release the prisoners or it will call off the ceasefire.

“I want to make it clear that if Israel, the enemy, does not abide by these demands that it agreed to, then we would treat this as if there was no [ceasefire] at all, the [ceasefire] agreement was void, and we will resume the fighting, inshallah. If the enemy does not carry out its obligations according to the agreement, we will not hesitate for a moment to resume the fighting, and then Allah can do with us as He wills,” he says.

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