Hamas political bureau leader Khaled Meshal warned Israel Monday that the longer it waits to accept a deal for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, the greater his group’s demands will grow.
“I told the Zionist leadership who reneged on the prisoner swap and surrendered to American demands that our demands for Gilad Shalit’s release are clear, and as time goes by we will raise the bar on our demands,” Meshal told students in Damascus.
“We will not settle for Shalit and, God willing, the freedom fighters will succeed in kidnapping more soldiers as Israel doesn’t understand anything but the language of force,” Meshal added.
The family of Gilad Shalit on Sunday launched a cross-country protest march, vowing they will not return to their home in northern Israel until the release of their son Gilad, who was abducted in a 2006 cross-border raid by Gaza militants.
Meshal also referred to Israel’s raid on the Turkish aid ship to Gaza, and said that Israel’s status in the world is declining.
“Israel is in a difficult situation and it has internalized the degree of [Hamas’] success after the Gaza flotilla, and is now trying to divert the world’s attention from the suffering of millions of Palestinians to the Shalit affair,” Meshal said.
He reiterated that “Israel is an illegitimate Zionist entity,” and criticized the leaders of Arab nations for continuing diplomatic ties with Israel.
This story "Hamas Says the Longer Israel Waits, the Higher the Price for Shalit" was written by Jack Khoury (Haaretz).