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Hamas Leader Calls Shalit Deal a Turning Point

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on Tuesday a strategic turning point in Hamas’s struggle against Israel.

“This is a strategic turning point in our struggle against the Zionist enemy,” Haniyeh said at a celebration in Gaza on Tuesday evening, adding “it was thanks to our resistance that we were able to release the land and the people.”

Hamas freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on Tuesday after holding him in captivity for over five years. Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for his return.

The Palestinian leader told the cheering crowd that he committed to two main things as part of the Shalit deal that were testimony to Hamas’s dedication to the entire Palestinian people.

“First of all, the Palestinians released were from all Palestinian groups and factions, and secondly, the prisoners were from all parts of Palestine,” Haniyeh said.

The Hamas leader said that the different Palestinian movements left their differences behind for the sake of the “brave prisoners”, adding that the Palestinians released belonged to a number of different factions including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PRC and the Popular Front.

Haniye noted that even a Christian prisoner was released.

The crowd burst into applause several times during Haniyeh’s address, calling out “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is great).

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