Families of Palestinians jailed in Israel to march in Gaza on Sunday to urge Hamas not to relinquish its demands in prisoner exchange deal with Israel.
By JACK KHOURY and BARAK RAVID, Haaretz
(July 3, 2010) – TAKING a cue from the family of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, the families of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel plan to march in Gaza on Sunday to urge Hamas not to relinquish its demands for a prisoner exchange.
The higher national committee on prisoners in the Gaza Strip said the planned protest march will make its way toward the Gaza home of senior Hamas official Mahmoud A-Zahar.
There, the protesters, expected to number in the hundreds, say they will demand that Hamas stand firm in its negotiations with Israel and demand the release of all Palestinian prisoners whose names appear on the original list Hamas presented to Israel.
“This move is a response to the Shalit family’s march that plans to bring thousands of people to the home of the prime minister, in order to press him to secure Shalit’s release,” the families’ announcement said. “The participants of our rally will demand that Hamas’leadership stick to its position and work to free all the prisoners Hamas demands.”
Egyptian sources earlier Saturday said that Egypt has renewed mediation efforts in negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the release of Shalit, Palestinian news agencies reported.
However, a statement issued Saturday by the Prime Minister’s Office said that the only mediator authorized by both Israel and Hamas is the German official who has been working to broker a prisoner exchange.
Shalit’s family, which set out on a march toward the Prime Minister’s official residence in Jerusalem to pressure him into accepting a deal, was joined by some 20,000 supporters on Friday, the sixth day of their protest.
Netanyahu told the Israeli public on Thursday that Israel is willing to pay a heavy price in the negotiations with Hamas, but not any price.
In his live address, Netanyahu said all Israelis wanted Shalit back safely but past experience showed that many Palestinians released had returned to carry out attacks on Israelis.