Ma'an News Agency
April 9, 2010 - 12:00am

The solution to the prisoner-swap stalemate is to capture more Israeli soldiers and force the hand of the Israeli government, Hamas leaders said Thursday.

Sparked by the start of the second week of a prisoner strike, officials in Gaza are seeking to support Palestinians in Israeli custody as they demand equal treatment by prison officials.

Two Hamas spokesman and an independent MP in Gaza spoke out on the issue, with Sami Abu Zuhri suggesting “Palestinians who seek justice for prisoners may be obliged to search for new friends for Gilad Shalit,” the soldier captured by Gaza resistance factions in June 2006.

Independent MP Jamal Al-Khoudary, who also heads the Popular Committee Against the Siege on Gaza, preferred to invite Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and international human rights organizations to “activate the legal dimension at all levels to protect the Palestinian prisoners,” a statement said.

In a news conference the same day, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum confirmed that the prisoners issue was back on the top of the de facto government agenda, and said officials were working to ensure the release of the 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli custody.

Abu Zuhri elaborated on the more radical stance of the party, saying his pronouncement encouraging the capture of Israeli soldiers came as Israel “continues to deny the cause of the prisoners and their rights.”

At the same time, Abu Zuhri encouraged international bodies to intervene and help Palestinians ensure the rights of those in Israeli prisons, and added that it was also “necessary to intensify national efforts to meet the demands of the prisoners and to support them as they continue with their hunger strike.”

For his part, Barhum held the Israeli government fully responsible for the life and well being of each prisoner, and called for an international response to the ongoing maltreatment of Palestinians.

Al-Khoudary suggested the mobilization of all resources to support the prisoners strike, noting “prisoners, especially women and children are subjected to the worst violations including medical neglect, torture, prevention of visits, and solitary confinement, along with abusive practices.”

He stressed the need to prosecute the Israeli jailers before international courts for the violations committed against the prisoners, calling for institutions at the international level to follow up the release of Palestinian prisoners.

With hunger strikes each Thursday punctuating a month-long announced boycott of family visits, prisoners have continued to protest what representatives have called the unequal treatment of those in custody, and the use and abuse of family visits as punishment for detainees including the abuse of family members during visits.


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